TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation hosted its 37th annual Golden Gala to support the Walker Breast Program at TMH on Thursday evening.
The Walker Breast Program is a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating and surviving breast cancer, according to TMH. The program includes the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic, which streamlines appointments into one visit where all medical experts can collaborate to create a unique treatment plan for each patient.
Kathy Brooks, a breast cancer survivor and TMH's Oncology Services Administrator, told ABC 27 that the Gala's mission to support the Walker Breast Program for the 2022 event is a testament to the community's support for breast cancer patients.
"This is a community event and it's well supported by the community. I think what that shows is that breast cancer patients are very important to our community," Brooks said. "The second thing that it shows is that when we unite as a community we can really make a difference for our breast cancer patients."
Brooks added that through the program, they have condensed about four to five weeks of physician office visits into one afternoon in the Cancer Center.
"Through the Walker Breast Program, patients are referred in, they come in, they meet their surgeon, they meet the group of physicians, all in the same day and they walk away with a plan of care," Brooks said.
The program was started about two years ago, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was forced to slow down, according to Brooks.
The Walker Breast Program has been able to see about 200 patients through the program in the past year, which is essentially a "one-stop-shop" for breast cancer patients in the Big Bend. TMH diagnoses and treated about 400 patients annually overall, Brooks said.
"It's a growing program for us and our hope is that every single patient that gets diagnosed at Tallahassee Memorial, gets referred to the Walker Breast Program," Brooks said.
The Golden Gala event itself was a conglomerate of "who's who" in the Capital City, with many of the city's physicians and healthcare professionals coming to support the Gala in addition to other key figures in the city.
In total, about 1,600 people bought tickets to the Gala, according to event organizers who rented out the entire Donald L. Tucker Center arena and its convention center space for the event.
According to the Gala's ticket website, each table sat eight people and each table had different seating plans for the concert at the end of the night. The table costs ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 each.
TMH Foundation President & Chief Advancement Officer Nigel Allen said that each year the Gala's focus switches to benefit different programs within TMH, and this year the Walker Breast Program was chosen.
"We really try to identify a part of the hospital's mission that can use the visibility and the financial support from what the Gala brings," Allen said.
Allen added that the event was expected to bring in about $225,000 in net income that will be donated directly to the Walker Breast Program.
Perspective from above, still looking for an official number of attendees for the night. pic.twitter.com/GlTp8VFqwj— noah chadwick griego (@greeayego) April 7, 2022
The 37th iteration of the event was initially scheduled for April 22, 2020, but was then delayed three times due to the pandemic and other factors to the eventual date of April 7, 2022.
"It's been a long time in coming," Allen said. "I think there has been a lot of pent-up excitement about getting back to the Gala. It is really a signature event, and it's a great combination of a great evening that raises a lot of money for great causes within the hospital."
The Golden Gala featured a cocktail hour, dinner and a concert from Grammy-nominated group OneRepublic, whose hits include “Apologize,” “Counting Stars,” “Something I Need,” “Love Runs Out” and “Good Life.”
The group was also booked for the 2020 version of the event and stayed on as the headlining act even through the delays, organizers said.
The 38th Annual TMH Foundation Golden Gala will take place on April 20, 2023, at the Donald L. Tucker Center and will feature country music star Keith Urban. To learn more about tickets for the 2023 event, click here.
For more information about the Walker Breast Program, click here.