Gavers foundation hosts annual Barndance fundraiser

WOODSTOCK – As people strolled into the large white tent at Emricson Park on Saturday, some wore plaid shirts, with cowboy hats and cowboy boots.

They all came for the 15th annual Gavers Community Cancer Foundation’s Barndance, an event organizers expected to gross about $400,000. After expenses, more than $200,000 is expected to be raised for cancer research, treatment and awareness. In the first 14 years of the event, more than $5.8 million has been raised.

The Gavers foundation donates money from the annual event to Centegra Health Systems, Family Health Partnership Clinic, the Wellness Place and Rush University Medical Center.

It takes about 160 volunteers to put on the Barndance, said foundation Vice President Andy Hartlieb. The morning of the dance, about 65 people helped set up tables, put together centerpieces, hang banners and blow up balloons.

“It’s a heck of an endeavor,” Hartlieb said. “Everyone contributes. It’s the ultimate team event.”

The event was expected to draw about 2,500 people.

Cooks who prepared the dinner flipped trays of pork chops and chicken over hot gray pieces of charcoal. As people arrived and began to eat dinner, the band Smokin Gunz played a cover of “Wagon Wheel.”

The event also included raffle prizes such as tickets to a Chicago White Sox game, an iPad Mini, a three-month membership to the Woodstock Recreation Center and a trip to Medieval Times.

People checked out some of the auction packages, which included a Chicago Bears experience, a barbecue party, a trip to Montauk, New York, a Chicago Blackhawks package, and a wine and spa fall getaway.

“It’s so much fun to watch the live auction each year because of the generosity of the people who come here,” Hartlieb said.

Among those who came to the event were Tom and Kelly Craighead of Crystal Lake.

“I’m just amazed how much has been donated,” Kelly Craighead said as she read about the live auction items. “I’m blown away by this.”

Tom Craighead said he has family members who are going through cancer.

“Gavers is a fantastic organization that treats cancer victims,” he said. “From a family experience, they’ve been really good, give excellent care, and helping you cope, [with the] care and in the recovery; the whole gambit.”

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