Saturday night, October 12th, I enjoyed my first visit to the Rose Ball held at the Desert Rose, a fund-raising gala for the American Cancer Society spearheaded by Rhonda Myers, a breast cancer survivor who wanted to do something that would pay it forward, to help others battling a disease that affects so many families in so many ways. It was quite an affair; sparkling lights, fancy decorations, good music, wonderful food, people having fun, and lots of money made for research and programs to help patients and families dealing with the disease. Let me tell you about it.
In early 2007 Rhonda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Six months later she was symptom-free. Early detection and treatment were crucial to her recovery. Over the years several members of the Myers family have also been diagnosed with various forms of cancer and have successfully conquered the disease with the help of new breakthroughs in treatments, many coming from research done by the American Cancer Society.
So, for Rhonda, a way to give back and help others fight cancer has been to raise money locally for the American Cancer Society to use to further the battle against this common enemy.
For eleven years she coordinated Muleshoe’s Relay for Life as a fund-raiser and a way to recognize and congratulate cancer survivors.
Then three years ago when she and brother Michael Dunham built the Desert Rose as an events center in Muleshoe, she realized she had a location at her fingertips that would allow her to tackle fund-raising in another way, to hold the Rose Ball, Muleshoe’s answer to the Cattle Baron’s Balls held in larger cities as fund-raisers for The American Cancer Society.
The first year of the Rose Ball, the Relay for Life was also held, and Rhonda saw that a town the size of Muleshoe couldn’t handle two big fund-raisers, and perhaps it was time for something new, another approach, and the Rose Ball became the fund-raiser.
Tables of eight can be purchased for $1,000 or individual plates can be bought for $100, which brings the occupants a wonderful meal of green salad, grilled rib-eye steak, baked potato casserole, homemade rolls, and pumpkin cake for dessert. Patrons also receive tokens with these purchases and can buy more tokens which can then be used for casino games where they can win yet more tokens which can then be used to bid on casino prizes that have been donated by local merchants and individuals. No money changes hands in these games, but players have a good time seeing how well they can play.
Rhonda’s husband Thurman handles the auction for the donated items. Bidding becomes heated in many cases and fun for the audience to watch, like the bidding war between Tyler Black and Brady Black for a Ted Nugent-signed guitar. As the bidding went higher, the young men started upping the bid a dollar at a time till Tyler finally gave in to Brady.
Rhonda gets all the necessary help from the Myers and Dunham families and friends to make the night a success. Michael and friend Tory Blackwell did the grilling, Londi Blackwell, Shelly and James Turnbow, worked on decorations and logistics, son Jackson secured the band Balsamroot from Wyoming for the music, Thurman and Sam Whalin and others worked the auction. Behind the scenes help from other friends and family, the auction items and food for the meal being donated by local businesses, all were key to the success of the night and very appreciated.
Rhonda likes to schedule the Ball in the fall because the weather tends to cooperate more then; not too hot, not too cold, chances of dust storms and hailing thunderstorms slimmer then, but holidays, stock shows, and Texas Tech home football games always have to be factored in. Rhonda feels like everyone, from those purchasing a plate or table, donating food or auction items, buying auction items, everyone participating in so many ways, helps raise money, all of which goes to the American Cancer Society. Rhonda’s goal is always $15,000 and has nearly been reached each year of the event. This year, however, the total hit the $15,000 goal and a few dollars more!
This money, by the way, specifically benefits Bailey County, not just in research and treatment advances, but in supporting the Hope Lodge in Lubbock, which has been used many times by Bailey County citizens when family members have been hospitalized during their cancer battles. Rhonda has attended leadership and education sessions to learn how to best tell her recovery story and spread the word about overcoming the disease. She is in full support of the American Cancer Society because it has one of the best records of non-profit organizations for spending money where it needs to be spent with as little money as possible being used in administrative positions. Another reason she supports the American Cancer Society is because it works to cure all cancers, not just one type, and since the Myers family has dealt with a variety of forms of the disease, this is important to her.
Rhonda and her son Garrison, who is currently studying medicine in Grenada, were both honored as Heroes of Hope by the American Cancer Society in 2012 for their work battling the disease. Garrison has organized an American Cancer Society group in Grenada to create more awareness of early detection and treatment in that country as well as raise money for the cause. Some of that money stays in Grenada and some of it comes to Bailey County.
Here are just a few of the people who enjoyed the night:
So if you are looking for a worthy cause to donate to and are ready for a night out on the town, next fall this gala just might be what the doctor ordered.
Then, maybe in the future, the doctor won’t need to be called in at all.
For more information on services provided by the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-227-2345.
Thanks to Rhonda Myers for taking the time to help with this story.