American Cancer Society 2013 Hope Gala: The Best One Yet

WEST PALM BEACH – The Hope Gala is one of the American Cancer Society’s longstanding traditions. This year, for the South Palm Beach Chapter there was something different looming in the air.

Some say it was a far cry from the rest because the organization celebrated 100 years of progress in the fight against cancer. Some say it was incommensurable because Mark Sunshine, gala chair, President and CEO of Veritas Financial Partners and Mark Seigel, gala co-chair and CFO of Veritas Financial Partners assisted with marketing, ticket sales, sponsorships, and awareness and gave it their all. Some say it was because Jamie Lober, public relations chairman climbed mountains on behalf of the organization that no one dared to climb before, building effective relationships with print media and ensuring the event would be diverse and all-inclusive. “Though I have executed events successfully for years, this was my first time doing public relations here but I figured what is the worst that could happen?,” said Lober. Regardless of how you rationalize the success, the 2013 Hope Gala was the best one yet.

Attendees walked into Woodfield Country Club and had their photos professionally taken by Event Studio Productions and listened to music by The NY Minute Band. “Event Studio Productions is operated by CEO Nikko Capria, a true authority when it comes to marketing, fashion, entertainment and bringing an organization’s vision to life,” said Lober.

The NY Minute Band said they were honored to perform and had everyone kicking up their heels and sometimes singing along until the wee hours. Though the décor played up the birthday theme to the max with cheery colors, most dressed in solid black. “Bright blue dress, bright blue nail polish, that was me; I wanted to make a statement,” said Lober.

Lober named a lady with a dress made of balloons who greeted guests as one of the showstoppers of the evening. “Attitude is everything is one thing I learned since relocating to Boca Raton and that you just have to always pretend you are wearing an invisible crown, that is how I get by everyday,” said down-to-earth Lober.

Nikko Capria, President/CEO of NIKKO Entertainment delivered a welcome and explained why it is so important that we finish the fight. “Like me, for Capria, involvement is personal and he lends his talent and charisma for the right reasons,” said Lober. NIKKO Entertainment does specialty entertainment and runs corporate, social and fundraising events while reinventing the wheel every time.

Having gotten to know Capria both with and without a microphone in hand, Lober tells that when the speakers, lights and attention are gone Capria is a good guy but talks tough. “He basically told me that in life you have to decide whether you want to become a victim or victor and act accordingly and if plan A with something fails, I have 25 letters left and should never ever give up,” said Lober. Capria has dominated the entertainment industry across the globe and Lober is running at a close pace in her respective field of health communications.

Capria went on to introduce popular Liz Quirantes of CBS-12 News who spoke of her connection to the cause and why she wants to finish the fight. “Quirantes is determined to find cures to cancer during this century and said that she wants to change the statistics from 2 out of 3 people surviving cancer today in the United States to 3 out of 3 surviving,” said Lober. Quirantes has a history of supporting health-related causes and no matter how busy her work schedule may be she always finds time to give back. “It is my understanding that Quirantes was on the H.O.P.E. Project which offered low-cost mammography to underserved and uninsured women in Palm Beach and Martin Counties and that she was instrumental to the fundraising that prompted the mobile mammography van to go digital,” said Lober. Lober readily admits that she does not know Quirantes personally but recognizes her face. “I know she has donated her time at Making Strides for Breast Cancer in the past and considering that I am the Public Relations Chairman for the event, I hope to get to know her in the coming months,” said Lober.

Quirantes, an obvious staple in the community, went on to recognize Sunshine and Seigel for stepping up to chair the gala. The two gentlemen describe their platform at Veritas Financial Partners as providing financing across a variety of industries and forms of collateral, including accounts receivable, inventory, equipment, other fixed assets as well as owner occupied commercial real estate.

“Sunshine and Seigel are well-respected, dedicated to the cause and definitely energized the Leadership,” said Lober. They are veterans in the financial industry and attendees were eager for the chance to talk with them first-hand and thank them for supporting the American Cancer Society’s mission. As is the case with any nonprofit, fundraising is the key to being able to deliver an incredible gala. “We would not be able to put on such a wondrous event without the generosity of Boca Radiology Group, Wells Fargo, Radiation Oncology, Rand Eye Institute and the Miami Dolphins to name a few,” said Lober.

Attendees bid competitively on auction items and raised a lot of money to give back to the mission of the American Cancer Society. “Aside from dancing which is not out of the norm for me, the most memorable part of the event was when The NY Minute Band sang Happy Birthday to the American Cancer Society and everyone blew out candles simultaneously to acknowledge the work that began in 1913 and pledged to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” said Lober. While they are still looking for cures, there has been significant progress. “Since my passion is women’s health I can speak to what I know and that is that in 1948, the American Cancer Society pushed for a wide adoption of the Pap test recognizing that it saves lives and resulted in a 70 percent decrease in cervical and uterine cancer,” said Lober.

Lober brought her mother who she describes as one of her best friends and biggest supports. “She, like so many, is so proud of me for getting involved and for the difference I have made by offering up my time and talents and I was thrilled she could be there to see an event that symbolizes what has unexpectedly become the cause of my life,” said Lober. It seems there is only one thing that could have made the evening better but Lober has hope for next year. “I wish my dad could have seen but I do not want to trade shoes with anyone else there; I probably could not walk in them and to be serious, I do not know what anyone’s journey is really about so I will take my own,” said Lober. Lober assures us that she will continue to represent the American Cancer Society well and will be at future Hope Galas. “I will be there until I can personally put them out of business and I hope everyone reading will join me in finishing the fight,” said Lober.

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