Amanda Hara, a news anchor on WVLT-TV, was the emcee for the evening. She’s holding an adorable Goldendoodle puppy who attracted big interest in the live auction, ultimately going for $4,500.
For a few festive hours on Friday night, you easily could have felt as if you were in Cuba — without leaving downtown Knoxville!
The Press Room, the beautiful event center at 730 N. Broadway, was transformed through lights, music, food and flowers into a virtual dinner club in Havana, the capital city of the island nation. The occasion? The 2019 Hope Gala, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Knoxville branch. The theme was “Havana Nights.”
The evening also provided a tribute to several local cancer survivors who explained during a touching video how important it is for those diagnosed with cancer to have hope. It is the ultimate goal of the American Cancer Society to one day have “a world free from cancer.”
Doesn’t this put you in the island mood? It put some folks in a giving mood! The event raised over $371,000!
The lush centerpieces were stunning.
Haha. I can’t see an anthurium without thinking of the 1982 World’s Fair. Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines, visited Knoxville during that time and the city administration went all out to make sure that her favorite flowers were here in abundance. I was a reporter covering City Hall at the time. Funny the things you remember!
Our friend Janet Testerman, here with her sweet husband, Joey Creswell, was one of the cancer survivors honored on Friday. She is a nearly 10-year survivor of breast cancer. She hosted a table of friends, including us. Thanks!
Here’s Janet’s mother, Janet Testerman Crossley, with Francis Norris. (Doesn’t he look like “the most interesting man in the world” from those Dos Equis ads?) Ms. Crossley has been active in the American Cancer Society for many years, having served on the board as president and on the state executive committee. She’s also a past “Volunteer of the Year” for the organization.
Jim Klonaris, the owner with his wife, Lori, of The Press Room, with Gay Lyons, editor of VIP Knoxville magazine and herself a breast cancer survivor.
These little numbers with pulled pork and refried beans were terrific passed appetizers.
And, how about this signature cocktail?
And this one!
Danielle and Jim Hemsley were among the 470 attendees.
WVLT’s Whitney Kent and her husband, Joe Book.
Teddy and Christy Phillips.
More appetizers: shrimp ceviche on plantains.
From left, Bill Lyons, Cliff Hawks and Alan Carmichael, all looking dapper.
Chris and Leah Ooten.
Kim and Bob Thomas. The hat definitely says “Havana!”
Bill Pittman and Tina Rolen.
Appetizers even included Cuban sandwiches!
Marla and Keith DeLong.
James and Hannah Slaughter.
Jacque Hawks and Mitchell Moseley, also guests at Janet’s table.
Erin Donovan was in a Havana state of mind! Great flower! (She’s so shy.)
Rick and Laurie Dover.
A police officer carried the Goldendoodle around in a successful attempt to make people fall in love with him!
When it was time to take our seats, we were presented with these beautiful salads.
I saw Raja and Michelle Jubran during a break for table-hopping.
Foster and Dottie Arnett were at Janet’s table with us.
Amy and Tim Williams.
Yummy surf and turf entree.
The cute chocolate puddings were garnished with what looked like cigars! Clever.
Jasmine Hatcher Hardin is general manager of WVLT-TV, which produced the video about the honorees. Her father is a cancer survivor.
Brian and Shelby Quinley were co-chairs of the event. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor who currently is battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
The Quinleys with Keith Phillips, a stage 4 cancer survivor and one of the honorees. He is a co-owner of Threds.
The Quinleys with McKenzie Loy, a pediatric cancer survivor who is a junior at Webb School of Knoxville. She was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer when she was in eighth grade.
Honoree Emily Lamon Justice, a co-owner of Lamon Jewelers, is a breast cancer survivor.
Also honored, posthumously, was Sam McCamy, a local entrepreneur.
And then, the auction. There was a boat, a vehicle and trips. But, the most compelling item of all was the Goldendoodle! The auctioneer, Blake Wilson, did a great job.
Adrian Jay was the lucky high bidder!
I think hubby Larsen is going to go along with it!
Music was by the 12 South Band from Nashville, which the crowd loved. Prior to dinner the lead singer was in a frisky mood as you will see in this snippet from “Fly Me to the Moon.”
After the ceremony, it was not a problem at all to get folks on the dance floor. As this clip will attest: