Sr. Manager Distinguished Events
American Cancer Society, Marco
Happy New Year Marco Island! I hope that you all enjoyed the holiday season with family and friends and are rested and ready for yet another action packed season. Before we move into 2016 I’d like to look back on 2015 and provide you with the results that because of your generosity led to another record setting year for the third year in a row. All I have to say is $507,000! This is the final tally of all the hard work completed by our volunteers, sponsors and donors who worked together right here on Marco Island in support of the fight against cancer. Thank you for your donations and for supporting the American Cancer Society of Marco Island. Sue, Nikkie and I appreciate your generosity and philanthropic spirit.
Both of our flagship events, the Imagination Ball and Relay For Life, set new records; in fact, both were recognized nationally by the American Cancer Society for their outstanding results. Sue and our two committees, led by Dick and Debra Shanahan and Jamie Bergen, really set the bar high and cleared it by a mile. Their committees worked tirelessly in their quest for excellence, and I am constantly humbled at the amount of time and effort each and every one of them put into these events. However, neither of these events would even get off the ground if it weren’t for our amazing volunteers who work day in and day out fundraising and planning the events to ensure that our guests have a wonderful experience. We are also extremely lucky to have so many local businesses, foundations, individuals and communities support the American Cancer Society by holding events that are fun for all ages while also raising the funds we need to keep up our lifesaving work. I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart and am so grateful for all that you do.
This past December at our annual dinner we thanked all of our Volunteer Leadership Board members for their dedication and commitment to the American Cancer Society. Each and every one of them has had an impact on our community and we are so appreciative that they chose to give their time to us. We also recognized our Volunteers of the Year, Dick and Debra Shanahan, for their contributions to the American Cancer Society as the chairs of the Imagination Ball. Under their leadership, the results from our gala events have tripled in just three years. They have brought new ideas, energy, and vision to the event and we are so thankful that they are part of our team. We also paid tribute to our outgoing board chair, Gary Landis, for his years of service to the Marco Island American Cancer Society. Gary has worked tirelessly on our behalf securing new supporters and personally co-chairing the “Shoot Down Kids Cancer” event at Gulf Coast Clays each spring. I have had the pleasure of working with Gary for my entire tenure and cannot thank him enough for showing me the ropes and being a constant presence in our office and one of our most ardent supporters. He has helped us grow and evolve and truly helped improve our presence in the community.
Gary closed the evening by remembering our vice chairman, Monte Lazarus, who lost his battle in October. Monte was passionate about our mission,and when he joined the board he wanted to do something for the community in the “off season.” Monte developed and chaired the Luau Against Breast Cancer, raising funds for breast cancer research. As a board member Monte attended every event and was proud to be our advocate in the community. We all miss him, his contributions and his sense of humor, even while he was going through his treatments. I will continue to fight for Monte and for the many other members of our community who are fighting this disease.
So, we move into 2016 knowing that there is more to be done and hopeful that with your help we can continue to save more lives by funding the research, programs and services that help our survivors and their caregivers navigate this very scary and life altering diagnosis. So, I am going to go out on a limb again this year and tell you that my resolution for 2016 is to raise more than we did last year by continuing to recruit and retain amazing volunteers and give them the freedom to create spectacular events that our community wants to support.
To get us started we have a new volunteer board chair to guide us, Rachel Schenk. Rachel has been a member of our board for two years and also serves on the gala committee and is an avid participant in our Relay For Life. She is truly passionate about our mission and a vocal advocate for us in the community. Professionally, Rachel is the vice president and branch manager at BMO Harris Bank in the Esplanade. I am thrilled to have her as my partner and am looking forward to another successful year. We are also very fortunate to add Dennis Pidherny to our Board. Dennis has served as Logistics Chair for the Imagination Ball for two years and brings a wealth of business knowledge and volunteer leadership skills to our organization. I am confident that Dennis will bring new ideas to the table and challenge all of us to do bigger and better things in the new year.
Season is upon us and I know you all have plenty of options and that calendars fill up quickly so let me give you all the important dates so you can plan to attend some or hopefully all of our events and activities:
The Imagination Ball presented by BMO Private Bank is set for March 5, 2016 in the Beach Pavilion at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa. We hope you will join us on the beach as we strive to “Wash Away Cancer” with great food, live and silent auctions, and lots of dancing. This year we will honor Bill and Karen Young with our Grado Award for their support of our mission. We still need committee members to assist with the planning of the event and day of event volunteers to help us with check in, auction, and other activities. Tickets and tables are still available if you would like to join us.
Relay For Life presented by Robert J. Flugger will again be a 12-hour event and will be held on April 9, 2016 at Mackle Park. Our chair this year is Cathy Nelson who has participated in Relay For Life for many years serving in a variety of capacities. Last year Cathy was our Volunteer of the Year for her contributions to Relay For Life. We are so excited that she has takenon the extremely important role as chair to lead our teams and volunteers on a “Relay Road Trip – Destination End Cancer.” We are currently signing up teams and sponsors to participate in our fundraising efforts and we will need volunteers on the day of the event to help with crowd control, luminaria set-up and our survivor/caregiver luncheon. You will see our teams in the community fundraising and I hope you will give them your support. You can’t miss them as they will be all decked out in our favorite color – purple.
We also have several upcoming events that you may enjoy that are run by local businesses, communities or individuals:
Island Country Club Charitable Foundation Annual Charity Golf Classic will be held at the Island Country Club on January 31, 2016. Get a foursome together for a great cause.
Golden Gate Jewelers Shopping Day is brand new this year and will be held on February 3, 2016. Stay tuned for more details and get ready to shop for your special valentine!
Fight Like a Girl Fashion Show is being held at Bistro Soleil on February 23, 2016 and always sells out so get your tickets right away if you’d like to join us.
Shoot Down Kids Cancer will be held at Gulf Coast Clays on March 19, 2016. You can sign up for a team or sponsorships now.
Hideaway Home Tour, Fashion Show and Luncheon is expanding in its second year by adding a preview night. The dates are set for April 11th and 12th and this is sure to sell out again in 2016.
If you would like to host an event of any kind, please contact Sue, Nikkie or me at the office to discuss the logistics and timing. We welcome all ideas and look forward to hearing from you.
Hopefully upon reading this you have reached the conclusion that raising a half million dollars takes the entire community and that the three of us in the local office need more help to keep the momentum going. We need your help to keep our streak alive, exceed our 2015 results and help me achieve my 2016 resolution! There are so many ways to lend your support and all you have to do to get started is call or stop by the office and we can find a match based on your available time, skills and interests. In closing, I would like to make a toast to thank all of you for your support and to recognize all of our survivors and caregivers for their courage and tenacity while coping with this disease and most importantly to honor those we have lost who we will not forget and for whom we continue to fight. I thank you in advance for considering the opportunity to participate in or volunteer for events that support the American Cancer Society. I wish all of you peace, happiness and good health in 2016.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island Community about the American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health concern by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood St, Suite 101 and is open daily from 9 AM–5 PM. For more information about volunteering or any of the events mentioned in this column please contact Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3890