The Montgomery County Cancer Association held its 15th annual Birthday Party and Celebration of Life on Saturday, June 22, at the Event Center of Montgomery County in Taylor Springs.
The event kicked off at 4 p.m. with a social hour, silent auction and music by the Bobby Remack Band. Balloon animals and magic tricks were presented to the young and young at heart guests by Professor Longhair, who donates his services to the event every year in honor of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer.
Prior to dinner, a moment of silence in recognition for those who are fighting against cancer and those who have lost the fight was offered by those in attendance. MCCA board member and emcee Nikki Bishop requested that attendees take a bit of time to especially remember past honorary chairmen Alicia Grosenheider and Terry Todt, who lost their battles with breast cancer and a form of appendix cancer respectively, this past year.
The Rev. Ralph Ward, a cancer survivor himself, led the invocation and blessing of the meal, which was provided by Milanos Catering of Hillsboro.
After dinner and dessert, Bishop welcomed everyone to the evening's festivities. She began by recognizing the Montgomery County Cancer Association board members and volunteers.
Bishop then offered the team awards. Heritage Health of Litchfield received the Special Mention Award. Meritorious Awards were conferred upon Coffeen Power Plant and We Are Family with the Wernsings. The Olde Tyme Tractor Show earned an Excellence Award, and Superior Awards went to Bank of Hillsboro - Banking on a Cure, Ethan's Angels for a Cure and Stamp Out Cancer. Stamp Out Cancer also received the Top Team Award.
MCCA volunteer Hannah Wiggins came to the stage to present grants to applicants who had completed at least 50 hours of community service in the past year. Those who received grants were Kayley Armour, Kensey Armour, Braeston Brummet, Alexa Cassidy, Elena Clark, Pacey Collins, Grace Flannery, Rachael Gorman, Brianna Guinn, Chloe Guinn, Sophia Keller, Erin Kistner, Kaylee Lawson, Taylor Lohman, Aubry Rupert, Madelyn Rupert, Mckenna Sanders, Kristin Stoddard and Mcall Wertin.
Grant recipients Erin Kistner and Pacey Collins then shared about their experiences volunteering for MCCA. Kistner discussed the first volunteer meeting she attended and how from that first meeting her mindset began to change.
"I realized that there were so many ways I could help others, and that small things do make a difference," she said. In addition to helping patients and families with their errands, Kistner now makes and sells glass art and donates her proceeds back to MCCA.
Pacey Collins, a volunteer member of many local organizations, declared that volunteering for MCCA has grown her as a person and is her favorite organization to contribute to.
Honorary Chairman Chris Mizera of Raymond then spoke to the crowd, discussing his journey through a colon cancer diagnosis received in mid-2018, and the importance of holding on to faith when the going gets rough.
"When the Lord tests you, He tests you. But He never leaves your side," Mizera said.
Mizera also reminded patients and survivors that they never have to be alone on their journeys.
"The most important thing - look around you. You are not alone. We are a group. We are a force. Cancer plays no favorites; let go, and let God," he said.
During the survivor celebration, Tracey White announced that 115 survivors registered that evening, with a combined 1,600 years surviving. She recognized those survivors in attendance, and each received a carnation. The scholarship recipients then performed the "MCCA Celebration" song to the tune of "YMCA," along with a choreographed dance.
The end of the evening included the conclusion of the silent auction and a live auction with auctioneer Cory Meyer.
William Fogle of Hillsboro won the 50/50 raffle, and donated his winnings of $150 back to the MCCA.
The final total funds raised at the end of the evening was $225,610.
In concluding the night's event, Nikki Bishop thanked everyone for coming and for their continuous support of the MCCA.