What a weekend! Gala of Hope raises more than $1.5M for cancer patients and their families

Bob and Barbara Mills, event organizers of Gala of Hope
Bob and Barbara Mills, event organizers of Gala of Hope

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Gala of Hope, a bi-annual event that financially supports individuals battling cancer as well as their families, hosted a wildly successful fundraiser last weekend. 
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Exceeding the funding plea by $235,000, the event raised a whopping $1,509,000 with the help of more than 562 guests.

Left to Right, live auction crew Matt Pritchard, Mick Lile, Karen Huelsman, Doug Sorrell, Steve Sorrell and Tyler Sorrell
Left to Right, live auction crew Matt Pritchard, Mick Lile, Karen Huelsman, Doug Sorrell, Steve Sorrell and Tyler Sorrell

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

On Bob and Barbara Mills' 51-acre property in Beavercreek, the couple erected a party pavilion that they use for the Gala of Hope, as well as other events throughout the year.  
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During the gala, 14 live auctions helped break the ceiling on the monetary goal. Among the items on the auction block: An immaculately restored 1965 Red Ford Mustang that went for $40,000, an Aussiedoodle puppy for $6,000, a custom-built child's playhouse for $12,000 and a spectacular week to a private estate home in Antigua for $40,000.

So what is the Gala of Hope? This nonprofit organization aims to improve care for cancer patients, support caregivers and fund research. 
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"For patients, we improve treatments not covered by health insurance,  from physical and musical therapy, massage therapy and exercise, helping them along in their journey," said event organizer Bob Mills, who has a very personal connection to the mission. 
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Mills was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2003, having a 50/50 chance to make it through successfully. In 2009, Mills lost his wife to metastatic bladder cancer after a few years of treatment. After she died, his granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia. 
It was during this time that Mills began to think of a way to help those battling cancer,  as well as those supporting them.

Not having the technical knowledge for a treatment or cure, he turned to raising money for improved treatments, medications, support efforts and therapies.
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“When a child is diagnosed with cancer, and they have an extended hospital stay, one of the two parents has to stay with the child, and usually they end us losing their salary, which can mean getting behind in normal household expenses. We are a mechanism to improve that for the caregivers. Sometimes we make mortgage payments or utilities, anything that will help the patient and caregiver going through the process of the cancer treatment,” said Mills.

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Typically, patients find the organization through one of the area's local hospitals.
Each potential recipient is evaluated, much like the process of applying for a grant. Years of processing and vetting patients allows them to flow through the process effectively as they know what's involved in patient care.

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“We’ve funded a great research mission at Dayton Children's, the first tissue bank for tumors,” explained Mills. Thanks to this grant, with permission from a child’s parent, a tumor can be safely stored and used for research.

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Other than home finances, therapies and support, the organization also supports transportation needs for patients. Notably, the organization purchased a van for the Pink Ribbon Girls so they could shuttle patients to their appointments.

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“We’re in the process of putting together a program so all patients have transportation to their treatments. Patients often times miss appointments not just because they don’t want to go, but because they don’t have the means,” said Mills.

These days, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been impacted by cancer.

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"We have an extremely benevolent community, a strong and philanthropic community in Dayton and the Miami Valley — that's the only reason we can raise this much money. The people here really care," said Mills.
The Gala of Hope is an invitation-only event, where guests receive their invitation through one of the event'a sponsors. This year, more than 56 organizations supported and sponsored the event.

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“We’re here, we’re impactful, and we truly are changing the face of cancer here in our community,” said Mills.

To learn more and donate to Gala of Hope, visit their website.