Cancer Gala gets bigger with a Big Apple theme

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This year's Cancer Gala, with the theme "I Love NY," will be Saturday at the Arena Building.

"The Central Park theme, loaded with spring flowers -- tulips, hydrangeas and forsythia -- will be on the main floor," said Mike Erzfeld of Custom Events, the decorator for the gala.

Live auction chairwoman Crystal Burress said, "We had to turn away about 100 people last year, so we've done a lot of rearranging, put more tables on the balcony area and opened up 50 seats. We're real excited."

Erzfeld said he wasn't sure just how tall Lady Liberty is, but he said a trailer will be needed to transport her to take her stance at the bottom of the stairs greeting partygoers as they walk in the door.

Tributes to those still battling cancer and those who lost the battle will be posted for all in attendance to see.

Changes in the setup include moving the silent auction onto the stage, versus its balcony location last year. A larger dance floor and additional bars will allow gala-goers more opportunities to enjoy themselves.

"The New York skyline in pink and black will go all around the room," Burress said. The color contrast -- a typical evening shot of the skyline -- is just one of the components that will bring New York to the Arena Building.

Yankee Stadium will be in the balcony area where Yankee paraphernalia and red, white and blue will prevail.

Revenue enhancers will add to the evening's interest, giving partygoers donation opportunities that can lead to surprises of great value when they take a chance. "Champagne and diamonds," one example of a revenue enhancer, entitles the purchaser to a drink and the chance at winning jewelry. "Mystery bags" will suit the curious and add to the fun of discovering how valuable the item in the bag really is. Balloons will not only enhance the party atmosphere but also appeal to those interested in what their surprise will be once the balloon is popped. And for those gifted at guessing numbers, "The Vault" will be most appealing. By taking a shot at the combination, donors may be able to unlock the prize.

Live auction items range from jewelry to tickets to sporting events with hotel accommodations to mini trucks and even tickets to next year's gala.

Tina Weber, last year's co-chairwoman, said the Cancer Gala raised $60,000 in 2007. "We'd like to raise more this year."

Mid-Life Crisis will provide the musical entertainment. Reservations may be made by calling the Bank of Missouri in Jackson at 243-9300 or the American Cancer Society at 334-9352. Individual tickets are $75. Tables of eight cost $480.

Of all the money raised, about 60 percent will be used for local cancer programs according to the local American Cancer Society office. The remainder goes to cancer research and national programs. Local programs are numerous and include the "We Can Weekend," a camp for cancer patients and their families, plus providing wigs and turbans, and recovery support groups and visitation programs.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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