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Cancer Society hosts fundraising gala

Photo: Geoff Smith Keynote speaker Pete Van Wieren address the crowd during the American Cancer Society Gala on Saturday.

Photo: Geoff Smith Keynote speaker Pete Van Wieren address the crowd during the American Cancer Society Gala on Saturday.

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DULUTH -- With sparkle and flair, the American Cancer Society hosted its annual Crusader's Ball on Saturday night at the Grand Ballroom at Gwinnett Center. The event, dubbed "Denim and Diamonds" for its casual, yet classy atmosphere, celebrated cancer survivors, while raising money for future cancer research.

Ted Hall of 11 Alive, whose son is currently battling cancer, served as emcee and former Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren, who is progessing well after his third bout of Lymphoma, was the featured speaker.

"Nobody deserves to go through [cancer]," Van Wieren said during his address. "Nobody."

In addition to Van Wieren's speech, guests were treated to a dinner donated by Outback Steakhouse, as well as a dance performance. Bottomless wine and beer glasses were sold, as were "blink blink" pins that sparkled throughout ballroom. A silent auction and a live auction also raised funds.

About 400 people attended, including Jeanne McDonough. She came to the event because she has many family members who have had cancer, including her husband, who is a survivor of prostate cancer.

"(This gala) helps you understand other people's problems," McDonough said. "It is good to give back."

Gem Shopping Network sponsored the "Denim and Diamonds" theme, which was a change from the "Dancing With the Stars" theme of the past three years.

"It was time to change the theme up," said Lucy Faxon, American Cancer Society manager of distinguished events. "We wanted something casual and lively. Plus, the Gem sponsorship tied into the theme."