VALDOSTA — The American Cancer Society welcomed several guests to the Tuscany Twilight Festival Gala Event Saturday, for an elegant and social evening, dedicated to supporting research and life.

One of three annual events sponsored by the ACS, Saturday’s Gala marked the fifth year of the event, drawing more than 350 guests from all around Lowndes County to enjoy live and silent auctions, musical entertainment and more.

“This event is different from our Relay and Golf Tournament because it welcomes a unique group of people. This is my second year attending and it truly is a nice night on the town for all those who come out to attend,” said corporate sponsor Amy Stevenson.

Inside the ballroom of the Valdosta Country Club, dancing partners swung in style as The Fabulous Classics Band played and other attendants walked about to look at the many auction items made available through the generosity of nearly 50 corporate and community business sponsors.

“Proceeds raised tonight go directly to cancer research, as well as to fund local services for cancer survivors and their families. Programs like Reach to Recovery for survivors of breast cancer and those recently diagnosed, and Look Good Feel Better a program to promote personal image among cancer patients, all benefit from this event and the support offered here through the community,” said Ashley Braswell, ACS committee manager.

Affecting one in every three persons yearly, cancer and its prevention continues to rise as a health care concern, but Braswell believes that the Gala and other ACS functions are key to raising community awareness.

“In the next year, some 3,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer, but we are seeing that as people come out each year, individuals become more aware of the issues and begin to share

the information with their friends and families. Awareness is so very critical because it aids in prevention, and encourages individuals toward the health screenings and check-ups necessary to detect cancer early, while it is quite often treatable,” Braswell said.

For many like Tom and Mary Gooding, the event carries a special purpose in remembering and honoring those they loved.

“It’s great social affair that we look forward to each year, and we appreciate it because it allows the community to get behind the fight against cancer and to support the American Cancer Society. In just the last year, my wife and I have lost quite a few friends to that battle, so we feel an urge to give to this cause, and their memory,” said Tom Gooding.

As the night continued with auctions and the anticipated diamond dig giveaway, sponsored by Steel's Jewelry, Gala Committee Chairwoman Rebecca Gallagher hoped to meet the committee’s goals.

“Our goal tonight is $40,000 and with so many items inside donated by our corporate and business sponsors, I’m confident that we will be able to meet that mark. There were even several businesses who supported this cause by offering their services to us free of charge. The community support for this event has been tremendous,” said Gallagher.

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