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Society seeks sponsors for 2013 Hope Gala

Staff Report • May 3, 2013 at 8:55 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The American Cancer Society of Northeast Tennessee has issued a call for sponsors for its upcoming 2013 Hope Gala to be held Aug. 10 in Bristol.

The event, being co-chaired by Jeff Jones and Melissa Steagall-Jones, is one of the organization’s largest local fund-raisers and supports numerous programs and outreach services provided to cancer patients throughout the region.

Nona Steagall, mother of Melissa Steagall-Jones, is also a cancer survivor. Her ordeal began 11 years ago when she noticed some bruising on her right breast. A visit to the doctor and a couple of diagnostic tests later revealed that Nona had stage-two breast cancer.

“I felt like I was being ripped apart when I got the news,” she recalled. “At first, I cried. Then I got mad because I thought I had done everything right — all the preventive tests, exercised regularly and ate the right foods. But I still got breast cancer.”

Eventually, Nona, who was then a wife, mother of twins and grandmother of three, said she confronted the illness.

“I had a strong will to live but, at the same time, I was afraid to be honest about the possibility of dying,” she said.

Giving people support and resources for facing the realities of cancer are just two of many services provided through the American Cancer Society and funded through the Tri-Cities Hope Gala.

“This event helps support everything we do — including contributing to cancer research and the very programs that help people like Nona as they face one of life’s most trying challenges,” says Cara Ledbetter, executive director of the American Cancer Society in Northeast Tennessee. “When businesses or individuals step up and become sponsors, they’re really helping hundreds of cancer patients to cope and fight back.”

The sponsorship contributions from the Hope Gala are crucial in funding myriad ACS services, including a Cancer Survivors Network, for those dealing with any type of cancer. Notably, one out of every two people diagnosed with cancer reaches out to the Society for assistance, including help with transportation to treatment, emotional support and local service referrals available through the society’s 24-hour telephone hotline. The society also provides wigs and similar assistance to women dealing with the physical side effects of treatment through the “Look Good Feel Better” program.

Nona’s story has a happy ending. After going through a mastectomy and four rounds of chemotherapy, she is cancer-free. Still, she has concerns about the future.

“The fear of the cancer returning is always with me,” she says. “My prayer is that through research, a cure can be found that will stop the disease.”

The 2013 Hope Gala, which has the theme “A Little Bit Country and A Little Bit Rock ’n’ Roll,” has three levels of sponsorship starting at $2,500.

Each sponsorship level carries increasing opportunities for recognition, such as having a designated table at the event, name inclusion in all promotional materials, and name recognition on the gala program.

For more information or to become a sponsor, call (423) 975-0635 or email cara.ledbetter@cancer.org. Tickets for attending the event are $125 per person.

For cancer information, 24 hours a day, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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