Cancer Crusade Is Cause for Celebration

Partygoers, above, at this year's Cancer Crusade Gala  --  which Rod 'N' Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach first held 26 years ago  --  numbered about 1,800.  Jack Russell, St. Mary's County commissioner, right, leaves the raw shrimp buffet and gets a final taste of cocktail sauce.
Partygoers, above, at this year's Cancer Crusade Gala -- which Rod 'N' Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach first held 26 years ago -- numbered about 1,800. Jack Russell, St. Mary's County commissioner, right, leaves the raw shrimp buffet and gets a final taste of cocktail sauce. (Photos By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
By Bonnie Smith
Special to the Washington Post
Sunday, August 5, 2007

When the Rod 'N' Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach hosted the first Cancer Crusade Gala 26 years ago, organizers raised a little more than $5,000 for the American Cancer Society. They believe this year's event took in more than $400,000, although the exact amount hasn't been tallied.

Close to 1,800 people attended the event Thursday, organizers said.

"We were sitting on top of the world when we raised the $5,000," American Cancer Society board member Sandra Younger said. "But each time we do this, we just know they're going to find a cure."

The final figures will not be available until this week, but Mary Lanham, marketing director for Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa, said the gala was a big success, with the proceeds comparable to last year's $455,000 total. "We are thrilled about everything," she said.

According to the cancer gala Web site, 40 percent of the money will remain in Calvert County.

The Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa, Bay Mills, Quality Built Homes, Technology Exclusive Inc. and Gott Co. each contributed $25,000. The Rod 'N' Reel Restaurant was a $15,000 sponsor.

Even with the donations of the larger companies, the honorary chairmen carry much of the load in raising the money for the gala. This year's chairmen, Jeannie and Phillip Stone, began raising funds shortly after Gerald Donovan, mayor of Chesapeake Beach and owner of Rod 'N' Reel, asked them to take charge.

A Chesapeake Bay cruise on the Stones' boat, Stoney's Market Price, was dangled in front of nine couples as incentive to support the gala. The trip will include a stop at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and St. Michael's on the Eastern Shore.

"Yes, it's a party and a great time," Jeannie Stone said. "But this is also time to come out and see what programs are available in the area, because some people don't know they're out there."

One of the programs that inspired Stone was the Road to Recovery. This program offers rides to patients who need assistance getting to and from treatment.

Jeannie Stone has a friend, recently diagnosed with the disease, who was traveling to Baltimore to receive radiation and chemotherapy. Stone saw firsthand the strain the traveling had on her.

"Cancer is private to some people," she said. "But you need all the help you can get. And I believe in this."


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