A ventriloquist, a lawn-chair drill team, Sonny and Cher impersonators and a Blues Brothers act. These are just a few of the offbeat and touching performances that helped a grassroots effort at Audubon Country Club in Naples, Fla., raise $60,000 this past spring for cancer research at MD Anderson.
The setting was Audubon’s Got Talent, a neighborhood talent show, auction and dinner held in March and April at the Naples golf course community. AudubonCARES, an organization dedicated to raising funds for cancer research, chose MD Anderson as sole beneficiary of its annual fundraising effort.
“Several Audubon cancer patients have been involved with research trials and treatment at MD Anderson,” says Bill Weidenfeller, co-chair. “That’s why the focus on cancer research became the goal of our campaign this year.”
More than 250 people attended, and their support, says Weidenfeller, was overwhelming, making 2010 the most successful campaign to date.
“Many members have expressed the opinion that the 2010 AudubonCARES events were the best ever held at Audubon, mainly because they brought together a community in the spirit of giving, while simultaneously presenting a variety of entertaining and fun-filled acts from among our club membership,” says Weidenfeller. “It was so close that a winner could not be selected. All three finalists were declared winners, with MD Anderson’s patients the big winners in the minds and hearts of all.”
During the past nine years AudubonCARES has donated more than $813,000 to cancer research and other cancer-related services. It is a small but dedicated group of caring people who embody the “spirit of giving” in a big way.
“The spark was ignited when 19 college sorority sisters gathered in Naples to celebrate their 60th birthdays,” says Weidenfeller. “They had chosen Naples in part because my wife, Betty Weidenfeller, a Tri-Delta sister and Audubon Country Club member, was in the late stages of breast cancer. The sisters formed a team for the local American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event, raised some donations, walked with Betty and cheered her on as she walked the Survivors Lap with other members of the Audubon community.”
Weidenfeller’s wife died in 2002, and AudubonCARES co-chair Joyce Sauer lost her husband to cancer in 2007.
“My wife and I spent one week in 2002 at MD Anderson to assess her treatment options,” says Weidenfeller. “I was totally impressed by the caregiving, the expertise and professionalism of the medical staff. Many Audubon friends have undergone or are currently undergoing treatment at MD Anderson.”