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About 700 attend Cancer Society brunch

October 11, 2005|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

alician@herald-mail.com

When Jim Shifler came up with the idea to have a brunch fundraiser for the Washington County American Cancer Society, his colleagues told him it would never work.

Seventeen years later, the Grand Sunday Brunch has become a tradition that raises more than $25,000 annually.

On Sunday, Oct. 9, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., nearly 700 people gathered for the event in the Grand Ballroom at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

June Datum, 58, of Hagerstown, an American Cancer Society volunteer, remembers when Shifler, a retired insurance agent, first pitched the brunch idea.

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"We looked at him funny and said, 'Jim, it's never gonna fly.' We haven't forgotten that since," Datum said.

Shifler, 77, of Boonsboro, said the breakfast, which raised more than $5,000 its first year, just made sense to him.

"I used to like to go out to eat on Sunday. I thought, 'Why wouldn't other people too?' I guess it worked well," he said.

Shifler's plan was to sell program ads to area businesses and provide brunch tickets in return, in addition to selling tickets to the general public.

Along with a full-scale breakfast and lunch buffet are a raffle and silent auction, and family-friendly entertainment such as live music, a magician, balloon sculpting, face painting and clowns.

"Some people come year after year and stay from open till closing," Shifler said.

Datum was honored at the event as the Washington County American Cancer Society volunteer of the year. Datum began volunteering for the group in 1984. She served as an employee from 1989 until she retired in 2004, and she continues to volunteer today.

Kelly Scott, community manager of the Washington County American Cancer Society, said Datum has long served as a behind-the-scenes coordinator.

"(June) has been a liaison for the office to volunteers in the community. She has successfully run events and provided resources for community partners - the health department, the hospital, the cancer center," Scott said.

Datum gave credit to community members who support the American Cancer Society.

"I tell ya," Datum said, "without this community you don't have anything. One person doesn't do all this. I feel very embarrassed."

Support was evident Sunday.

Howard Long, 78, of Boonsboro, attended the fundraiser with Oneida Stevenson, 78, of Hagerstown.

"I want to give support," Long said. "I had cancer twice and I know what it is."

Gloria Jetter, Maryland Region American Cancer Society executive director, traveled from her Bel Air, Md., home along with her husband, Patrick, and daughter, Sydney, for the event.

"I wanted to show support for the volunteers and the outstanding job they are doing here," Jetter said. "You can see that by the attendance."

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