Auction's goal is to send cancer going, going, gone

April 29, 2007|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, PA.-When Denise Beck won her second battle with cancer, she knew she had to do everything possible to ensure no one else went through her pain.

"I wanted to give back, and hopefully help raise enough money so someone can come up with better treatment and hopefully a cure," she said.

A lifelong resident of Waynesboro, she wanted to help the small community she has called home for 43 years.

Beck found her answer at the top of an old tile staircase on Main Street under the dim lights of the Eagles Club.

Since 1981, a small group of Waynesboro residents has hosted a Gala Auction at the club to raise money for the American Cancer Society.


"There are very few people who have not been affected by cancer," auctioneer Bob Benchoff said. "Rather than feel bad that we could not find a cure, we decided to make a difference."

Jeff Rhodes, one of the founders of the gala, said the committee formed to find an alternative fundraiser to its door-to-door campaign.

Looking around at the hundreds of people gathered Saturday for the 26th annual Gala Auction, Rhodes said the event has enjoyed similar success since it started.

Jill Kessler, chairwoman for the event, said while the gala appears large and involved, it truly is a well-oiled machine that only takes about five meetings to organize.

Starting Saturday at 4 p.m., about 700 items went up for silent auction. With different tables closing throughout the evening, Kessler said the goal was to keep the auctions from overlapping.

As 5:30 p.m. and the start of the oral auction approached, empty seats grew scarce and standing room became a tradable commodity.

"We are here to raise money, so keep the bidding high, it is for a good cause," Rhodes said as he kicked off the oral auction.

Kessler estimated the gala would raise about $40,000, but said the committee does not set a goal.

"We do not want to set a goal we cannot meet and then be disappointed when we don't meet it," she said. "Any money we raise, no matter how much, is a bonus."

The annual Gala Auction is held every year on the last Saturday in April.

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