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Annual brunch benefits cancer research, honors Washington County volunteers

November 10, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- It was her husband who drove her to chemotherapy treatment as she battled endometrial cancer. When she received radiation, Sharon Gildee, now 62, drove herself.

Now, nearly two years since Gildee, of Hagerstown, was told that cancer had formed in the tissue lining her uterus, she is helping Washington County residents get to and from their cancer treatment. Gildee is one of about 15 "Road to Recovery" volunteers who work with Washington County's chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Those volunteers were honored during the American Cancer Society's 19th annual Grand Sunday Brunch fundraiser. It was held Sunday at Next Dimensions outside Hagerstown.

"I had a lot of love and support," Gildee said. "I wanted to give something back."

Cathy Beckley-Thomas, community manager for the American Cancer Society, said money raised at Sunday's fundraiser will help pay for research, education and early detection of cancer. Tickets to the brunch cost $35 each, and Beckley-Thomas said more than 500 people attended the event.

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The event also featured a silent auction and a raffle.

Susan Chamlin of Halfway spent some time looking at the items up for auction Sunday, and said Jim Shifler, the volunteer who organized the first Grand Sunday Brunch, was the reason she attended the fundraiser. Shifler used to play golf with Chamlin's father.

Shifler, of Boonsboro, said he started the event about 20 years ago based on his memories of enjoying brunch with his late wife. His first wife died after a battle with breast cancer 34 years ago.

Shifler said the fundraiser is a fun "social event" and said the American Cancer Society always needs volunteers to help with the annual brunch.

Maryland Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said Sunday that he's been attending the annual event since it began.

"It's well-attended," he said. "It's a good cause."

Munson said his mother died of cancer and the fundraiser is a chance to support the American Cancer Society.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. and Boonsboro Councilwoman Barbara Wetzel also attended the fundraiser.

Maryland Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he used to be a member of the American Cancer Society's board and was happy with Sunday's large turnout.

Shank attended with his wife and two children, and said his sons enjoyed the "balloons, food and fellowship."

He called the American Cancer Society a "great nonprofit," and said all money raised Sunday would go to a good cause.

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