One way the organization is looking to achieve its goal is through its first New Year's Eve Gala set for Friday at the Sikeston Armory.
"It goes back to a traditional night of good entertainment, good food and friends and community. And we're bringing back the tradition of dressing up," explained Terry Brewer-Cheatham, chair of the gala.
Although the American Cancer Society has sponsored galas over the years, never has one been associated with New Year's Eve, pointed out Kim Heckemeyer, co-chair of the gala. The idea for the New Year's Eve Gala originated simply because it seemed every other date was taken, recalled Brewer-Cheatham.
Cocktail hour begins at 8 p.m. and music and dancing is set for 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Appetizers will be catered by Trisha's and black tie is optional.
"Instead of a sit-down dinner, there will be two locations or more where guests can get heavy appetizers such as beef Wellington sandwiches, smoked salmon, smoked turkey and ham and all of kinds of crab dips and hors d'oeuvres," Brewer-Cheatham noted.
A chocolate fondue fountain, which consists of warm chocolate will also be on display and surrounded several "dippables," Brewer-Cheatham said. Two cocktails per person are included in the ticket price and after that a cash-bar will be available. Bottles of champagne will also be on hand.
"Phoenix," a six-piece musical group from St. Louis, is slated to perform a variety of musical styles, including Top 40, contemporary, jazz, classic rock, oldies, disco, rhythm and blues, big band/swing and country. Because the group is versatile, special songs can be easily incorporated into the show.
"Our only requirement (when finding a band) was to be able to entertain people from 21 to 100 years old," Brewer-Cheatham said, adding Tom Nunnelee helped the gala committee find the band.
A silent auction will be held and many games of skill will be available. Auction items include a picture from photographer Julie Heppe, two guns donated by Southern Rod and Reel and Terri Hurley, a round of golf package, $160-print from Personal Expressions and a lawn package.
In addition, a one-half carat diamond donated by Bo's Jewelry & Pawn will be awarded to a winner of games of skill.
The gala will also include a special tribute section to those who have fought the battle against cancer.
"The tributes are only $50 and you can purchase one in honor of someone who has beat cancer or in memory of someone if you've lost," Brewer-Cheatham said.
The name of the person being honored or remembered, along with the name of the donor, will be prominently displayed on tributes, which will be large floral arrangements. "We're also using the colors fuchsia and silver to decorate and which also represent the colors for breast cancer awareness," Brewer-Cheatham said.
All proceeds of the event will benefit the American Cancer Society.
"Donor dollars is what makes all of our services available to patients and families," said Robin Stoner, community specialist for the health initiative department of the American Cancer Society in Sikeston.
All of the American Cancer Society's services are free and they're available in every community, Stoner pointed out. Some of those services include nutrition supplements to cancer patients and treatments; transportation reimbursements; and access to the Hope Lodge in Kansas City and St. Louis, where cancer patients can stay for free with a guest, she said. ACS also partners with Air Life Line and cancer patients can fly for free.
In addition, free wigs and turbans and resource materials for patients are available at the ACS office, as well as volunteer support programs such as "Look Good, Feel Better" and "Reach to Recovery," Stoner said. And of course, funds are used for research, she pointed out.
"A lot people forget we have an office right in Sikeston -- and we service nine counties," Stoner noted.
Even though the event will be a good time, the gala committee doesn't want its guests to lose sight of what the night is about, noted Brewer-Cheatham, whose father died of liver cancer.
She said: "We want everyone to know we're doing this for a new year of hope, research and cures."
Reservations are requested to be made as soon as possible. Cost is $75 per person or $125 per couple. For more information, contact Brewer-Cheatham at (573) 471-7423.