Fund-raiser set for Brighton woman

(Originally published in the Telegraph on 8/3/08)

GODFREY - The family of an ovarian cancer patient invites area residents to eat, drink and fight for a cure.

On Oct. 4, Laura Gray and Sarah Garman of the nonprofit group Teal We Find a Cure will host a benefit dinner at the Alton-Wood River Sportsman's Club on behalf of Tracie Gray, Sarah's mother and Laura's mother-in-law. The 49-year-old Brighton resident and victim of what many refer to as "the silent killer" has entered her fourth round of chemotherapy at Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center.

Proceeds from the $25 entry fee will go toward the cancer research of Dr. David Mutch, Tracie's physician at Washington University.

The doors will open at 5 p.m., and a Sportsman's Club catered dinner will begin at 6 p.m., with live music - performed by '70s and '80s-style classic rock group Millennium Band - playing from 7 to 11 p.m. Bud Light and Miller Lite will be available on tap.

The organizers will hold a 50/50 drawing, as well as raffles for gift baskets, a mystery basket, a gas card and cancer awareness jewelry. They will also auction off a garage door and a wheelbarrow of alcohol. Raffle and auction item donors include Gray Contracting, Sandy and Paul Britt, Bonnie and Dennis Brinkman, Avon Representative Avon Staggs, Garage Door Outfitters, Belle-State Auto Parts Inc., Brass Door Restaurant and Catering, Stoller Distributing, Olin Community Credit Union, Rolling Hills Golf Course, Oak Brook Golf Club, Stonebridge Golf Club, Piasa Harbor, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Gateway Fun Park and Lumiere Place Casino and Hotels.

The event will not only raise funds for research, but also raise awareness.

"The whole reason why (Tracie) wanted to do this is to get the word out into the community about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer," Laura Gray said. "We get frustrated when people see us with our teal ribbons, and no one knows what they mean."

"Medical experts termed ovarian cancer the ‘silent killer' because many of the symptoms are vague and similar to other abdominal problems," a Teal We Find a Cure news release said. "Most cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, making it difficult to treat successfully."

Tracie's doctor diagnosed her with Stage 3C ovarian cancer in February 2006, but the 10-year employee of Mid-America Audiology Group in Alton has refused to retire or give up hope.

"Believe it or not, even when she does not feel good, she's a trooper: she still goes to work," Laura Gray said. "She doesn't let anything get her down. My father-in-law (Paul Gray) and mother-in-law are busy-bodies, and they're always on the go."

The family would like to continue holding either annual or biennial events if the October benefit is successful, Laura said.

Charitable donations can be made out to Teal We Find a Cure and mailed or delivered to Olin Community Credit Union. For information about the benefit, contact Laura Gray at (618) 604-3608 or Sarah Garman at (618) 791-5554.