An amazing group of people came together in Effingham County on Saturday, March 7th to enjoy a great night of community and raise money to fund life-saving research for pediatric cancers. This was the 10th annual dinner benefiting Catie’s Fund, a named fund of CURE Childhood Cancer. Formerly called Sisters on a Journey, the event is now known as Catie’s Gathering.

The on-going rain in the community prior to the event necessitated a last-minute move from Honey Ridge Agri-Center to Marlow Elementary School. Several schools and organizations in the county stepped forward to offer their space once word of the need to move got out. Members of the community all pitch in and do what they can to make a difference – which is a classic example of what makes this event so special. Two in-kind sponsors, Carlson’s Premier Events and Kaufman Heinz, were instrumental in making the venue change successful.

Other than the move to Marlow, things went as planned. Sponsors, in-kind donors, CURE families, volunteers, table hostesses, and guests all came out for a great night. Before the start of the event, guests enjoyed perusing silent auction items and listening to live music provided by local band, Goshen Travelers.

One of the things that makes this event so unique is that each table is decorated individually. The table hostesses chose a theme or color scheme and created elaborate tablescapes and centerpieces. The hostesses certainly weren’t shy on creativity when they came up with themes like Crushing Cancer, We’ve “Goat” to CURE Childhood Cancer, Cooking for a CURE, and Kissing Childhood Cancer Goodbye.

Emcee, Lonnie Pate, started the program by welcoming the crowd. Simply Southern Catering served guests a delicious meal and Southern Kafe on 17 provided a great coffee bar. Door prizes and an exciting live auction with auctioneer, Kenny Williams, really got things rolling. Kenny later shaved his head in honor of kids fighting cancer and to celebrate all the money raised that night.

CURE’s Jenny Wilkins and teenage cancer survivor, Seth Rousch, shared some facts about childhood cancer with the crowd before Seth shared about his journey through childhood cancer. He shared some very difficult parts of his story including the months he spent away from home undergoing CAR T-cell therapy and eventually a bone marrow transplant.

In a poignant display, cancer survivors and families who had lost their child to cancer were invited down front for a candle-lighting. Each family or survivor shared the name and diagnosis of their warrior. The room was silent during this beautiful and moving moment as they realized just how many local families have been affected by childhood cancer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as these families lit candles and guests in the room stood to honor cousins, grandchildren, or siblings who had fought similar battles.

Thank you, Effingham County, for coming together once again. Everyone did their part and worked to raise $168,885 to improve treatment for children with cancer. We can’t wait until 2021!

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