Winter Gala to offset cancer costs


OBSERVER Staff Writer

Community members will have the opportunity to help local residents with the costs of their cancer treatments – and it will be a gala affair.

A night of “drinks, food, sweets, dancing, laughter and friends” could be the ticket to kicking off a strong fundraising season for the RO Foundation, according to Joe Russo, who co-founded the organization with Maggie Link-Owens.

On Saturday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 10 p.m., the Dunkirk Moose Lodge will host the organization’s annual winter gala. Organizer Jill Zappie said it will be no ordinary party, and will feature “high-end” finger foods and hors d’oeuvres, including shrimp cocktail surrounding an ice sculpture and sliced prime rib on bruschetta.

“During the last hour, there will be a huge dessert display featuring local bakers and bakeries,” Zappie explained.

Music will be by Musicians Against Cancer,the MAC band, who will be playing rock, country and blues favorites.

Several raffles will take place during the event, including men and women’s designer watches donated by Kirk’s Jewelers and beach glass jewelry donated by George Burns.

All proceeds will benefit the foundation, which was created to assist families within a 20-mile radius of Dunkirk with travel expenses associated with cancer treatment. Financial assistance is given to both cancer patients and their families who need to travel for treatments and doctor and other visits. Last year, Zappie said the organization helped 66 families with more than $14,000 in grants by providing gas cards, gift cards for accommodations, food and other travel expenses.

RO Foundation members hope to increase their reach within the community and help more cancer patients and their families.

“We’re just trying each year to do more,” Zappie said. “Our goal is to help more families.”

Tickets for the fundraiser are limited and $35 each and the price includes food, dessert, beer and wine. Tickets can be purchased by calling Joe Russo 785-7505 or Jill Zappie at 785-1796. For more information or to make a donation, visit

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