A best friend, a sibling, a parent – losing a loved one to cancer can be devastating. But the community members turned dancers at the 2019 “Dancing for Our Stars” Gala used their personal experience with loss to raise $380,000 that will support patients being treated at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center.
Based on the television series Dancing with the Stars, the 11th Annual “Dancing for Our Stars” Gala paired each of the community members with professional dancers or partners of their choice to perform show-stopping dance numbers.
The gala was an emotionally filled night with personal stories of survivorship and loss that inspired the audience to continue raising the fundraising thermometer.
Featured dancer, Amanda Johnson hit the dance floor in honor of her best friend Talia Serra Bradley, who lost her fight to ovarian cancer two years ago.
“Talia was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer while pregnant with her second baby,” says Johnson. “The cancer rapidly progressed, forcing her to have an emergency C-section at 27 weeks to give birth to her son Luke. Hours later, she began chemotherapy. She courageously fought her cancer from every possible side, and was able to see her newborn brought home from the NICU in June 2017. She passed away two months later. I participated in this year's event because I've never been able to say no to Talia, and she would want me to dance.”
Local mortgage advisor, Rick Loveall, found inspiration to dance from his mother, who lost her battle with cancer just 10 days after being diagnosed.
“My mother had been misdiagnosed for back pain and was fighting the fight that cancer patients endure,” says Loveall. “Although she fought hard, it was just too late. Before she left, she told me that I had to find a way to give back and make a difference, as well as be an example to follow.”
Other dancers included Rick Bryson, president, Bryson Financial; Ellyn McIntosh & Dave Sobanski, corporate medical director/physician (Ellyn) & licensed vocational nurse (Dave); and Drs. Mariusz & Aleksandra Wirga, MemorialCare.
“The outcome of this year’s gala is only possible because of the commitment and selflessness of our amazing dancers,” says Sharon Thornton, president, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation. “For months, they have not only practiced, but worked tirelessly to engage our community in supporting others affected by cancer.”
At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, more than 1,800 patients each year have access to targeted, customized therapy treatments tailored to their unique needs. Knowing cancer is more than a physical disease, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute empowers its patients to achieve the best quality of life by promoting wellness in mind, body, and spirit.