BRISTOL — United by their fight against cancer and a love of fashion, more than 250 local residents gathered at Elcona Country Club Wednesday, Sept. 25, to help others in the area battling cancer.
For the fifth year, United Cancer Services of Elkhart County hosted United for Fashion, a fashion show and auction luncheon aimed at raising funds that help local residents dealing with the disease.
The 254 people that attended the event represented the show’s largest turnout to date, according to Jean Barfell, UCS community relations coordinator and one of the event’s organizers.
After short presentations, models — some cancer survivors themselves — weaved through the crowd dressed in fall fashions from Stephenson’s of Elkhart.
Aside from the fashion show, UCS took time to honor Lois Dusthimer, a woman highly involved with the agency and one of the original organizers of United for Fashion.
Dusthimer’s husband, Tom, passed away in July and as a way to help increase funds raised for UCS, some of his trademark “crazy” golf pants had been donated to local artists to turn into auction items.
Among some of the items were teddy bears, pillows and a quilt that all featured patches from Tom Dusthimer’s pants.
The funds raised Wednesday will stay in the area.
“We’re not a branch off a national organization,” said Peter Norton, UCS director. “We raise money to do hands on help with cancer patients.”
Norton explained that some of what the organization offers is helping plan patients’ time in treatment, getting connected with services and financial aid, including helping to pay for medicine and medical bills.
“The people who are coming to us are solidly middle-class people,” he continued. “Cancer is so expensive and so much of it is out of pocket, but on top of that, most of our people can’t work while in treatment so it’s a double hit.”
Norton noted the importance of events like United for Fashion, since the agency receives no public funding, relying only on the generosity of local people.
Barfell said that with the large group gathered Wednesday, UCS hoped to raise at least $51,000 so far this year, up from $36,000 in 2012.
She said a final total will likely be known by Friday.