The St. Francis Hospital Foundation raised more than $130,000 at its 125th Gala for the Cancer Care Campaign at SSM Health St. Francis Hospital Feb. 16 at the Mozingo Lake Conference Center.
The sold-out Gala featured a cruise theme where guests could “set sail” and visit six ports featuring food from Greece, Japan, India, Mexico, America and the French Riviera. The event included a silent and live auction, live entertainment and dinner.
The money raised from the gala will be put toward a healing garden and parking at the hospital.
Larry Mannasmith, a co-chair for the gala, was involved because he lost his wife Rhonda to breast cancer in 2017.
“We went to Nebraska Medicine for five years while she put up her fight against breast cancer,” Mannasmith said. “And the healing gardens at the Buffett Center in Omaha were my saving grace. So when they said they wanted to do that here in Maryville, I said, ‘Count me in.’ That’s an important part. Maryville patients and citizens in Nodaway County deserve that as well.”
Teri Harr, the other co-chair, is part of the Cancer Care committee and was happy to help with the gala. Her main job as co-chair is to get people involved and raise funds for the cause.
“I love that the money is going to go to help so many people that have been impacted by cancer,” Harr said, tearing up as she spoke. “I just feel like it’s such a need in our area to be able to provide those services and this healing garden for cancer patients and their caregivers. I feel really blessed to be part of it.”
Mannasmith wants to use the money raised to start the garden immediately so it can be developed within a few months.
“There are families right now that need that comfort garden,” Mannasmith said. “We cannot wait. There are people fighting cancer right now that need this garden to help them get through their process.”
Three women who work in Cancer Care at the hospital — Kenzie White, Julie Moore and Andrea Cunningham — attended the gala for the first time. They have all worked in Cancer Care since it started in June 2017.
“We’re here to support our patients,” Moore said. “We have a patient that’s an ambassador here tonight, so we’re really here to support her. The highlighting of our patients, I think, is a good thing for the community to see.”
Moore is looking forward to having the funds used for parking. White said there isn’t much parking near the hospital.
“We’re really focusing a lot on getting parking for our patients so they don’t have to walk as far and be fatigued,” Moore said. “It would benefit them to have parking close to our facility.”
Assistant Director of Wellness Services Judy Frueh was also at the gala. It was her third or fourth year attending, and she described it as a good evening.
“I think it’s important to support the efforts of SSM and now Mosaic,” Frueh said. “I’ve been on the Cancer Care committee for a little bit, and I just think it’s really important that we need that (healing garden) for our cancer patients here in the county.”
Many Northwest students were present at the gala as volunteers, recruited by senior Shianne Kolts.
Kolts is the Community and Development intern for the St. Francis Hospital Foundation and has helped with the event planning since it began in October. She reached out to multiple campus organizations to ask for volunteers.
Volunteers from Sigma Society, Sigma Kappa, Sigma Tau Gamma, Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Alternative Spring Break helped at the gala by checking in coats, pouring drinks and cleaning up.
Kolts worked with the registration for the event and picked up donations for the silent auction. She enjoyed the event planning experience as well as seeing the community come together.
“(I like) getting the donations and getting just so many people willing to help out for such a wonderful cause because cancer has affected so many people,” Kolts said. “All these people come to donate items or buy items just because everyone’s been affected with it somehow.”
Mannasmith reflected on his participation in the event fondly.
“The committee that I’ve worked with, led by Megan Jennings, and the St. Francis Foundation are a huge, dedicated bunch of people that are so kind and compassionate,” Mannasmith said. “They want the best for their patients, and they want the best for the citizens of Maryville and Nodaway County. That’s what’s made it so inspirational to work with them.”