There was a feeling of community among the more than 660 people attending the Illumination event Saturday night at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Clayton. They were all there to support Foundation’s Cancer Frontier Fund.
Corporations such as Express Scripts, Clayco and Edward Jones supported the cause. Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth performed and told her story about her mother, who was diagnosed with several forms of cancer, including two battles with breast cancer.
“When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I realized this was my moment,” Chenoweth told Good Housekeeping in 2010. “All my life, I’d been on the receiving end of my mother’s endless tenderness and vigilant care. Being allowed to care for her during her recovery was a gift,” she said.
The luxury auction at the event raised $1.5 million, said Julia Ruvelson vice president of Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation. Auction items included a ride with Lance Armstrong, a vacation at a million-dollar home, a Napa Valley trip, and a visit to a Rams' practice including a meeting with Sam Bradford.
It all goes to support the Cancer Frontier Fund, which provides seed-grant support for innovative research to fast-track better cancer treatment.
“It takes a village to raise this kind of money,” Ruvelson said, “and our village is not only finding better treatment at Sitement Cancer Center, but around the country and around the world, because we have world-class investigators, and that’s all they do is try to think about how to cure cancer.”
The event has been going on annually for 12 years now, though in the last five years, it has grown from a $250,000 event, up to a $1.5-million event.
“For the most part, people who come to this event have been touched by cancer, Ruvelson said. “At one point in the evening George Paz (co-chair with Bob Clark), asked everybody who had been touched by cancer to stand up, and as you can imagine, everybody in the ballroom was standing up. Cancer doesn’t discriminate…” She said that her own mother died of breast cancer four years ago.
“You kind of find yourself within a community of people who all kind of understand each other in a new way,” said Abby Hughes, a marketing coordinator with Barnes Jewish Hospital Foundation.