By Denise Ortuno Neil

It is a reality that most of us have been faced with. We have either known someone who has personally fought the menacing disease, know someone who has lost their life to it, or have even battled it in our own body. Whichever the case, the degree of separation from cancer is small. But for 100 years, the American Cancer Society has been on the front lines of the fight against cancer, and will be celebrating their century long efforts in tandem with their marquis fundraising event, the 25th annual Desert Spirit Gala.

The American Cancer Society established the Desert Sprit Gala 25 years ago. The event is put forth to assemble hundreds of business leaders and the community, to recognize the strides that have been accomplished in the fight against cancer and as a progressive fundraiser to continue the organizations incredible efforts. The Desert Spirit Gala is in the top 5 of American Cancer Society chapter galas and has raised $1 million to date.

This year’s Desert Spirit Gala will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Sunday, March 30th starting at 5:30pm. The event’s logo and theme is “Picturing a World Without Cancer” which encapsulates the American Cancer Society’s purpose. The aesthetic theme is geared towards a Hollywood Oscar night, as explained by event co-chair, Melissa Neiderman, “It will have Hollywood glamour and we’re having fun with it, complete with a red carpet,” said Neiderman.


The event will start with a cocktail reception and have Frank DiSalvo on hand for entertainment. The night moves forward with dinner which includes top desert restaurant stations that include; Casa de Frida, Cliffhouse, El Mirasol, Spencer’s, Le Vallauris, JIAO, Kaiser Grille, Wally’s Desert Turtle, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, plus many others. The stations provide for a more interactive evening opposed to the traditional sit down dinner, “It’s more of a social event where you get to talk to people who are not at your table,” said Neiderman.

Bobbie Eakes will open entertainment during dinner followed by the New Sensations Band for the duration of the night.

The evening program includes appearances by Honorary Chairs Gavin Macleod, his wife Patti, and actress/singer Kaye Ballard. KESQ News Channel 3 Anchor Karen Devine is emcee for the event, with Local CBS 2 meteorologist Patrick Evans and All My Children’s Walt Willey as celebrity auctioneers, for the fundraising auction. Alex Newell from “Glee”, whose father was taken by the disease, will be involved in the “I am Your Dollar” part of the program, where attendees come up to the stage and briefly say why they are part of the American Cancer Society.

The event will have four honorees who will receive awards. Sally West Brooks will be given the “Celebration of Life Award” for her part in helping to create and co-founding the Desert Chapter of the American Cancer Society and for her superior fundraising efforts of her and her late husband, Dr. Marvin Brooks, who passed away from cancer this year.

Music star Naomi Judd will receive the “Inspiration Award” for sharing her own fight against cancer with the world.

Jackie Lee Houston’s daughter-in –law, Lisa Houston will be given the “Jackie Lee Houston Award” for her support of the organization.

Patricia Carr Bosley, whose husband Tom Bosley from the television show “Happy Days” passed away from cancer, will be given the “Caregiver Award” for the tireless care that she gave her husband during his battle.

Tickets are being sold for the event at $300 per person with tables seating 10 available for $3,300 which include advertisement in the evening’s program.

With cancer touching everyone’s lives in one way or another, it is imperative that the fight against the nefarious disease continues. It has been a 100 years that the American Cancer Society has been dedicated to eradicating the disease, through research, education and assisting those fighting for the lives. With the public’s ongoing generosity and community efforts in supporting the American Cancer Society, we get closer to winning the battle, and it is with that togetherness that grows our “Spirit” of humanity.

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