Tampa, FL– In an awesome evening of high auction bids, an incredible match challenge, major pledges, and sponsorships, guests of the 15th annual Magnolia Ball helped to raise $3.2 million on May 3 to benefit patient care, research, education and the Magnolia Lodging Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. These proceeds exceed last year’s net results by $600,000. The Magnolia Ball remains the only black-tie gala in the Tampa Bay area to accomplish this feat.
“Tonight is a celebration,” Moffitt’s president and CEO William Dalton, Ph.D., M.D., told the audience of 800 at A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa. “Through your support we are working toward a cure for cancer,” he said.
After noshing on lobster tails and petit filets, guests eagerly awaited the Rise to the Challenge. Entrepreneur Dave Lageschulte pledged $750,000 and challenged the audience to match his gift. Paddles waved in the air for about 20 minutes as the guests exceeded the match. Also, in a surprise announcement, Ball Honorary Chair Nick Valvano of the V Foundation pledged another $750,000. When it was all over, the match challenge brought a total of $2.549 million.
In the Live Auction, items like Be a Fighter Pilot for a Day and a trip to the 2009 Masters Tournament kept the bids high. Maher Chevrolet contributed $10,000 for each item that sold for its market price up to $100,000. Maher’s match brought the Live Auction total to $297,570. Guests also bid on vacation getaways and sports memorabilia in the Silent Auction, which raised $62,000.
The Magnolia Ball is known for its spectacular financial success, but guests who attend are constantly reminded of why they give: to help give cancer patients back their quality of life. In an emotional testimony, Moffitt patient Deborah Llewellyn of West Palm Beach thanked supporters for their continual support.
“It’s because of you that Moffitt gives cancer patients hope,” Llewellyn said. “It’s because of you that there are thousands of stories to tell. It’s because of you that I’m alive to tell my story.”
The Magnolia Ball always features stunning live performances by top recording artists and this year was no different. Popular band Chicago performed its hits like “If You Leave Me Now,” “If She Would Have Been Faithful” and “25 Or 6 To 4.” Also, Nick and Karen Valvano joined Ball Chairs Ed and Marsha Droste in leading a great event. The Presenting Sponsor was the Don and Erika Wallace Family Foundation.
Proceeds from the Ball will enhance Moffitt’s patient care, research and education programs. Also, they will benefit the Magnolia Lodging Program. This program lessens the intense emotional and financial burdens that cancer patients often experience, by offering them and their families a comfortable place to live while they are undergoing lengthy treatments at Moffitt – regardless of their ability to pay.
About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center (www.moffitt.org) is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer, as well as for ear, nose and throat. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.