American Cancer Society fundraiser celebrates Broadway

We’ve all heard the phrase “everyone has been touched by cancer.”

Those touched by the disease can take a small step toward striking back by attending the American Cancer Society’s Evening of Hope fundraiser, “Broadway Lights,” on April 27 at The Casino at Lakemont Park.

The black tie-optional Evening of Hope event will feature a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions and the presentation of two awards to local recepients. This year’s ACS gala will also feature more entertainment than ever before, provided by a trio of local arts groups – the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Allegheny Ballet Company and P&J Productions.

The night will feature WTAJ’s Joe Murgo as the emcee and Steve Kelsey as the night’s DJ.

“We’re in our ninth year,” said Lisa Koncz, Income Development Representative for ACS Blair County. “All proceeds benefit local programs and services here in Blair County. … It’s our one and only gala event for the year. It’s really an entertaining evening. We hope to see over 200 people attend.”

The entertainment was organized by one of the event’s co-chairs, Cristin Burwell. Burwell is one of those people whose life was “touched by cancer.”

“After my father passed away from cancer, I got involved in the American Cancer Society. I got the ABC to perform at the event last year,” she said. “We, the different arts groups I talked to, just kind of thought it would be very nice as a way of giving back to such a great cause.”

According to Burwell, Allegheny Ballet Company will do a performance to the song “Lullaby of Broadway,” the ASO performance will consist of pianist Barbara Weller Crain and an ASO string quartet performing various showtunes and P&J Productions will present selections from their production of “Chicago” by actors Carol Fedeli and Shane Gherrity.

According to Koncz, the group will give its Shirley A. Pechter Pinnacle Award to Judy Winfield of Martinsburg.

“[For the award] we choose a volunteer each year who has outstanding accomplishments,” she said. “She’s spent many years as a volunteer as an advocate for the ACS, promoting our legislative efforts. … She’s worked tirelessly on our behalf.”

That isn’t the only award the ACS will give out.

“We are also honoring Dr. Jack Schocker and Altoona Regional Health System’s Radiation-Oncology Department,” Koncz said. “Their award is called the American Cancer Society Division Citation Award, for working so diligently in referring patients to us.”

Two big events for the night are the live and silent auctions, according to event co-chair Judy Halbritter. The event’s third co-chair is Jan Andrews.

“There will be anything from trips to restaurant gift cards … there’s a good variety,” she said. “We’re trying to get some artwork [donated].”

Halbritter said the event’s fundraising goal for the night is $40,000.

“The committee has worked hard this year and works hard every year, because we believe in the mission – we want to cure cancer,” she said. “It’s a fun evening, and of course, it’s for a very good cause.”

Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.