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Evening of Hope Auction Preview!

CSCVVSB Board Member David Wank and wife Tami at the 2011 Gala.

CSCVVSB Board Member David Wank and wife Tami at the 2011 Gala.

Get your paddles ready!

The 2013 Evening of Hope Gala is Friday, May 3 at the Four Seasons Westlake Village and you WILL NOT BELIEVE the live auction items we have in store for you. Click here for Gala tickets and details.

This year’s goodies include getaways to Breckenridge, Maui, Manhattan, and New Orleans; plus unique experiences like a surfing safari with an Australian pro, dinner for 10 by a professional chef in your home, and more.

The lots below offer a preview…click here for the full list!


Monsters University World Premiere:

Four passes to the star-studded World Premiere of Disney Pixar’s Monsters University on June 17 in L.A. at the El Capitan Theatre.

Expect appearances by the voice talent, filmmakers and other celebrity VIPs.

Donated by Walt Disney Studios

american idol

See the American Idol Finale In Person!

Great music! Great night! You can be a part of this larger-than-life reality show. Be there to see the birth of a new star! FOUR priority tickets to the finale of one of the most popular television shows ever – American Idol. 

The live taping of the season finale takes place on May 16 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Donated by On Camera Audiences, Inc.


Mountains of Fun in Breckenridge

Are you looking for the perfect place for your next getaway? Look no further. This stunning 5-bedroom home in beautiful Breckenridge, CO sleeps up to 12 people. Favorite Breckenridge activities include skiing, spas and wellness, horseback riding, biking, Jeep and ATV tours, fly fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, and more.

Donated by Elizabeth Hart

maui-sunsetOn a Golf Course in Maui

Enjoy a 7-day/6-night vacation in a lovely spacious one-bedroom condo overlooking the beach in Kaanapali, Maui. This home sleeps up to 4 people and offers a large lanai overlooking a beautiful golf course and pool.

Enjoy some of the world’s best beaches, walking distance to the popular Whaler’s Village, a golf course next to the complex, zip lining, outstanding snorkeling, snuba and scuba diving, whale watching, parasailing, sunset cruises, luaus, bicycling down Haleakala volcano, and more!

Donated in memory of Merv Kopp, 2011 Celebration of Life Gala Honoree

CLICK HERE for details on all 13 lots!


Meet the 2013 Evening of Hope Honorees

With great pride and gratitude, the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara announces our 2013 Evening of Hope Gala Honorees:

2013GalaLogoCelebration of Excellence – Paul Miller, MD

Celebration of Hope – Dale Richter

Celebration of Life – Renee Ripps

Celebration of Philanthropy – Anthem Blue Cross

Lifetime Achievement – Marty Nason, RN, MN

We are pleased to share their stories below, and hope that you are inspired. Please join us at the Four Seasons on Friday, May 3rd to celebrate these outstanding individuals. Click here for tickets.

Celebration of Excellence – Paul J. Miller, M.D.

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“Cancer is my nemesis, and this is my opportunity to fight back.”

Dr. Paul Miller’s determination to fight cancer is both professional and deeply personal. On Christmas Eve, when Dr. Miller was just seven, he lost his father to esophageal cancer. His mother was later diagnosed with breast cancer and survived.

“Cancer is my nemesis, and this is my opportunity to fight back,” says Dr. Miller, a Radiation Oncologist practicing in Thousand Oaks. “Because of my personal experience with cancer, I have a deep appreciation for the emotional trauma that it can cause.”

Dr. Miller has been a supporter of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara since its founding days and is a member of the CSCVVSB Professional Advisory Board.

After earning degrees in Chemistry, Psychology and Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas, Dr. Miller worked briefly as a research engineer in the aerospace field in southern California, working on the development of the space shuttle. He then worked in a genetics research lab at the University of Kansas where he later attended medical school and completed his training in Radiation Oncology.

Board-certified by the American College of Radiology, Dr. Miller spent over 17 years as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA School of Medicine. He has published research on high-grade brain tumors, and has actively participated in studies on breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain tumors. Dr. Miller has used his engineering background to spearhead the advancement of optimal technologies for cancer treatment.

His specialized knowledge of the science behind radiation, combined with firsthand experience of his parents’ cancer battles, allows Dr. Miller to treat his patients with confidence and compassion.

“Dr. Miller gives you the assurance he knows every detail of your individual situation,” says Gail Crawford, a thirteen-year breast cancer survivor who was treated by Dr. Miller. “He spends a great deal of time carefully explaining the step by step process of radiation treatment and what the benefits will be.  His time, attention to detail and sincere caring attitude take away any fear.”

Celebration of Hope – Dale Richter

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“My family gave me the reason to fight cancer, my doctors gave me the ability to beat it, and the Cancer Support Community gave me the hope to get through it.”

Dale Richter is an eleven-year esophageal cancer survivor and a dedicated advocate for the Cancer Support Community. Diagnosed in 2002, Dale went through two months of chemotherapy and radiation, followed by major surgery and more than a month in the hospital due to complications. Halfway through his chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he joined a support group at CSCVVSB, and for the next year and a half he went every week.

With the support of his family, his doctors, and his CSCVVSB friends, Dale held on to hope, even when one website told him he had a three-percent chance of survival.  “I just decided I wasn’t going to give up,” says Dale.

Wanting to give back to the organization that helped him find hope, Dale became a founding member of the CSCVVSB Speaker’s Bureau last year. In 2012, this panel of CSC participants gave more than 28 presentations to UCLA students, middle schoolers, corporations, service clubs and churches in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

“The first time I had to speak, I was scared to death,” says Dale. “But the Cancer Support Community has done so much for me… I need to let people know about this valuable resource.”

“Dale inspires us with his persistent search for healing and perspective,” says fellow Speakers Bureau member Mark McAlister. “He continues to amaze us with his animated presentation style and his resolve to find humor in an overwhelming situation.”

For nearly seven years Dale has also given back to CSCVVSB by leading orientation sessions for new participants. He also facilitated a post-treatment cancer networking group.

“One of the last stages of healing is giving back. That’s why I do it,” says Dale.

Celebration of Life – Renee Ripps

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“It lifts my heart to be among the people at the Cancer Support Community.”

For the past eight years Renee Ripps has been an indispensible member of our volunteer team, consistently stepping up as a leader when a need arises.

After retiring as a school principal in Oxnard, Renee was looking for a volunteer position. She knew she wanted to make a difference for people affected by cancer. The disease had afflicted two of the most important people in her life – her mother and her beloved nanny, who had lived with her family for 50 years.

Having met CSCVVSB President Suzanne Drace through the Oxnard School District Educational Foundation, she decided to look into CSCVVSB as a place to devote her time. When she met with Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Way, she felt strongly that this was the place for her.

Renee started working every other week as a front desk volunteer and quickly expanded her service to many areas. She headed up a group of volunteers to regularly prepare and mail calendars and brochures to doctor’s offices and hospitals in L.A. and Ventura Counties, providing essential community awareness of CSCVVSB’s programs. She also co-chairs the Registration Committee for the Evening of Hope Gala, and coordinates the scheduling of volunteers to help during educational and social events.

“Renee offers to do any task with a spirit of service and creativity,” says Marilyn Way, who worked with Renee during her time as CSCVVSB Volunteer Coordinator. “As a front desk volunteer she always has a smile and a kind word for everyone. She truly fits the definition of a volunteer.”

“Having seen what my mother and our nanny went through, I just want to give back to people who are in that same position – to alleviate the stress and the pain caused by cancer,” says Renee. “It lifts my heart to be among the people at the Cancer Support Community.”

Celebration of Philanthropy – Anthem Blue Cross

anthem logo - new

Simply put, Anthem Blue Cross helped us open our doors. More than twenty years ago, Anthem Blue Cross (then known as Blue Cross of California) was an original founder of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (formerly known as The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura).

As CSCVVSB has grown, Anthem Blue Cross has continued to provide financial support that allows us to empower and strengthen cancer survivors and their families. Anthem employees have volunteered their time to help build our Garden of Hope, paint meeting rooms for cancer support groups, and maintain our building. Each year Anthem invites CSCVVSB to participate in health fairs to spread awareness of CSCVVSB’s support programs for cancer survivors and their families.

CSCVVSB is only one of many organizations to benefit from the philanthropic work of Anthem Blue Cross. In 2011, Anthem Blue Cross, its Foundation and its associates donated $3.4 Million to improve health and strengthen California’s communities. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges. Priorities include prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges.

“We are in the business of helping people navigate the health care system, and we recognize that when people are very ill, understanding how to get help is a big part of getting better. For that reason, the Cancer Support Community aligns very well with our mission,” says Pam Kehaly, Anthem Blue Cross President and a member of the CSCVVSB Board of Directors.

We wish to thank Anthem Blue Cross for their ongoing commitment to helping members of our community find hope in their cancer journey.

Lifetime Achievement – Marty Nason, RN, MN


Photo by Ken Taylor

“I am motivated every day as I watch people transition from frightened victims to empowered victors with help from the Cancer Support Community philosophy.” 

As Co-Founder and Vice-President of Programs for the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, Marty Nason, RN, MN has devoted the last 25 years of her life to helping people with cancer replace fear with hope.

Thirty years ago, as a nurse specializing in counseling people with chronic illness, Marty attended a seminar at the first Wellness Community in Santa Monica and was impressed with their philosophy. Several years later, after the loss of her father to cancer, Marty decided to start a support group for cancer patients similar to those held at TWC in Santa Monica. She contacted Beth Kin, RN, MS, OCN, then an oncology nurse at Los Robles Medical Center. Beth was thrilled with the idea, having seen an urgent need in her patients for emotional and social support.

Marty and Beth met with Wellness Community founder Harold Benjamin, Ph.D to learn more about starting a support group. Dr. Benjamin convinced them to do much more than start a group – he told them to start their own Wellness Community!

It took a vast amount of research, fundraising, and community support. But with the help of many, Marty and Beth succeeded in opening The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura in 1991. Now called the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, the organization serves more than 3,200 people each year with programs in English and Spanish throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and into the San Fernando Valley.

As Vice President of Programs, Marty has lent her skilled and caring spirit to all aspects of CSCVVSB’s services. Whether facilitating a support group, setting up a comprehensive slate of programs and events, or leading the clinical staff, Marty does it all with integrity, wisdom, and a sense of humor that puts everyone around her at ease. “I am motivated every day as I watch people transition from frightened victims to empowered victors with help from the CSC philosophy,” says Marty.

Marty says her time at CSCVVSB has never felt like work. “I received much more than I have given,” she says. “There have been so many gratifying moments, starting with the miracle of CSCVVSB’s existence, thanks to the generosity of our Board of Directors, volunteers, donors, and staff. The opening of the Garden of Hope has been hugely exciting. And it is always rewarding to see the unique and loving bond that develops among support group members.”

Marty is grateful for her family’s ongoing support and encouragement. “They have always shared my vision and have made their own sacrifices to help make CSCVVSB a reality,” she says. Marty also acknowledges her admiration for the CSCVVSB clinical staff, six of which have been with CSCVVSB for more than 16 years. “I admire their passion, empathy, and support. Their skill and dedication have made our programs successful,” says Marty. She also appreciates CSCVVSB President Suzanne Drace for her leadership, empathy, and vision…and for always understanding the importance of CSCVVSB programs.

“Marty brings her knowledge, patience, nursing background, compassion and peace to people who are fighting the battle of their lives,” says Co-Founder Beth Kin. “She is a shining light to all who know her, and her commitment to CSCVVSB knows no boundaries. She has given us her heart and we thank her with all of our hearts.”