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Hundreds at Waynesboro gala auction make their bids to battle cancer

April 29, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Waynesboro's Gala Cancer Auction Steering Committee Chairwoman Jill Kessler shows off one of the popular auction items - Scotty dog quilt made by the students in Ellen Scott's class at Summitview Elementary School. The item was auctioned at Saturday's 31st annual Waynesboro Area Gala Cancer Auction at the Eagles Club on E. Main Street in Waynesboro.
Photo by Roxann Miller

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Now well into its third decade, the Waynesboro Area Gala Cancer Auction always draws a large crowd, and Saturday’s turnout at the Eagles Club on East Main Street was no exception.

With the economy’s nosedive in recent years, steering committee Chairwoman Jill Kessler said she doesn’t set monetary goals anymore.

“Anything that we get is good. We appreciate anything the community can do to help,” Kessler said.

Nonetheless, community members never disappoint.

Last year, the silent and oral auctions combined to bring in $62,000 for the Franklin County, Pa., chapter of the American Cancer Society. The auction has raised $1.5 million since it began.

“We’ve all been touched by cancer,” Kessler said.

Kessler started with the auction as a solicitor, but was touched by cancer in her own family when her son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5.

“He’s 21 now. He’s 16 years away from having any issues, and he attends college — so you would never know,” she said.

More than 500 people attended between 4 and 10 p.m. to browse past the hundreds of donated items on the silent auction tables and to bid on the dozens of other items when bidding began at 5:30 p.m.

First-graders from Kathryn Helfrick’s class at Hooverville Elementary School and Ellen Scott’s class at Summitview Elementary School continued the tradition of making one-of-a-kind quilts to put up for bid on Saturday’s auction block.

The quilts always bring a good price because parents like to bid on them as keepsakes, Kessler said.

Scott has been donating her trademark “Scotty dog” quilts for more than 20 years. One year, Kessler said the quilt brought $3,500 to benefit the cancer auction.

Plenty of food was donated, with proceeds benefiting the auction, and served by members of the Waynesboro Area Senior High School National Honor Society, Kessler said.

Shirley Sanders of Waynesboro survived cancer twice.

Cancer has hit her family hard. Her mother, father and two of her nieces battled and survived the disease.

She and her family are big supporters of the auction and what it’s done for the fight against cancer.

She’s been attending the auction for the past 15 years, and her 88-year-old father has donated to the auction every year since it began.

“The first cancer I had 30 years ago, the whole treatment plan has changed from when I had it. So, in those 30 years, they found a better way to treat it through cancer research,” Sanders said.

As Jennifer Kirkpatrick of Waynesboro squeezed past the crowded silent auction tables, she put her name on some silent auction bid sheets for weekend getaways.

“I think it’s important for people to come (to the auction) to help the cause and to realize how many people have survived cancer,” Kirkpatrick said.

This is her fourth year attending the auction.

Her mother-in-law has battled cancer and is currently in remission, Kirkpatrick said.

Nicole Dehart of Bel Air, Md., has attended the auction for the past seven years.

She works at the University of Maryland cancer center and knows firsthand the importance of cancer research.

“We’re all touched by it, and they all need money for cancer research. Without money, we can’t do research. Without research, you’re not going to cure it. It’s very important,” Dehart said.

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