Wellness Place tops fundraising goal

Smiles were aplenty after Wellness Place topped its fundraising goal during last week's gala auction. Pictured from left are board secretary Linette Gahringer, board vice president Megan Kovanen, executive director Julie Lindholm, board member Dr Chandra Villano , Kathryn Etherington and board member Anne Brooks.

WENATCHEE — “Celebrate Under the Stars” was this year’s theme at the sixth annual Wellness Place Gala Auction on Nov 1. And that is just what took place — a celebration. The supportive energy in the room was electric, with supporters raising $90,000 for the Wellness Place and the patients they serve.

The Wellness Place offers free support and services to cancer patients and survivors in Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanagan counties. As our cancer numbers increase so does the need for services.

In 2018, the organization provided over $20,000 in gas cards to patients who needed assistance to get to treatment.

One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, so the Wellness Place should be doubling or tripling that amount.

The organization gave its third annual Legacy Award posthumously to Suzie Kiesz, honoring the memory of a long-time Wellness Place advocate and supporter. She succumbed to breast cancer earlier this year. Her husband, Bob Kiesz, accepted the award with a few of their children in the room to share in the evening.

Keynote speaker Pam Brulotte, a breast cancer survivor and co-owner of Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth, shared the story of her special relationship with the Wellness Place. Pam, along with her long-time friend Shelley Desmarais (owner of CLS Farms), are both breast cancer survivors and they recently collaborated and released the “1 in 8” Fresh Hop IPA, because 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Pam presented a check to Lindholm on behalf of Icicle Brewing from proceeds from their recent fundraiser.

Cody Hodge, auctioneer and a cancer survivor, ignited the room during the live auction where every paddle was raised during the Fund A Need. Community donations to raise needed funds were generous — from vacation homes in Mexico, Molokai, Hawaii, the Methow and Lake Chelan to private dinners, wine tastings and even an epic kegger in a local cherry orchard.

The live tally board quickly surpassed the $60,000 goal set at the beginning of the evening, adding to the excitement.

“The support from the guests in the room and our community has been astounding ... life changing. There was not a single person in the room that has not been touched by cancer. Survivor, caregiver, supporter and current cancer warriors battling this disease collectively raised our patients up in support,” said Megan Kovanen, board vice president for Wellness Place.

Save the date for next year’s event on Sept. 26 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

Julie Lindholm is executive director of Wellness Place.