Thousands of dollars were raised Saturday in Cape Coral for the fight against breast cancer.
The second annual Bangles, Bubbles & Bling for "the Girls" fundraiser, hosted by John Michael's Diamond & Jewelry Studio and the American Cancer Society, featured a silent auction, variety of vendors, host of activities, and a raffle for a seven-night cruise. The event raised about $12,000.
The funds will benefit the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer effort.
"The event went great. It was a big success," John Michael Glorioso, owner of John Michael's Diamond & Jewelry Studio, said Thursday. "It was awesome."
Connie Hand, a volunteer with the Lee County American Red Cross, agreed.
"I think it went very very well," she said. "It was bigger this year than it was last year."
Last year, the fundraiser brought in $9,000 for the American Cancer Society.
"We want to raise it every year," Glorioso said. "Next year we hope to do $15,000."
According to Hand, 80 percent of the proceeds will stay in the local community to help survivors through programs like Road to Recovery and Look Good Feel Better. The remaining 20 percent of the funds will go toward cancer research or wherever else it is needed to help achieve the mission.
"Eighty percent of it will stay in Lee County," she said.
In addition to raising funds, the events help to raise awareness of the existing services.
"A lot of survivors, when they're told that they have cancer, they don't know that these services are available," Hand said. "There are services available for every step of the process."
She noted that she was surprised by the outpouring of support Saturday.
"The outreach from the community in being involved in the fund-raiser was tremendous," Hand said.
About 15 vendors were scheduled to take part in the event. Other activities included a "Bow Wow Bling" dog fashion show and contest, martial arts and K-9 demonstrations, and a "Dunk a Hunk" tank. There was a children's corral for the younger attendees, along with fire truck rides for the children.
"One of the most important things, and it really means a lot to me, is the positive feedback that I get from the community - is the mayor coming out and being in the dunk tank, the fire chief coming out and being in the dunk tank," she said.
Some of the other elected officials who joined Mayor John Sullivan and Fire Chief Tim Hayes in participating in the dunk tank fun were Cape Coral council members Lenny Nesta and Rana Erbrick.
Hand added that the"Bow Wow Bling" contest was new this year.
"That went really really well," she said.
Another first for this year's event was the raffle for a Royal Caribbean cruise for two, with taxes, fees and prepaid gratuity included. The tickets were $5 each, and about 700 out of 1,200 total were sold.
"It was a fun addition to the fundraiser," Hand said. "It has really been a good thing."
Fort Myers resident Kathy Rossi scored the getaway grand prize.
"She was ecstatic. She just was so happy," she said.
The voucher presentation will be held Oct. 12 at John Michael's Diamond & Jewelry Studio.
The silent auction featured two JetBlue airline tickets, tickets for the Key West Express, Naples Zoo and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, golf packages, signature jewelry and other valuable items.
The Mobile Mammography coach was also on site to provide reduced rate mammograms.
"Our goal this year was to see a river of people out of Big John's plaza, and I think we succeeded in doing that," Hand said.
Glorioso thanked the community for its support.
"We're happy to raise money for the American Cancer Society, and we look forward to getting larger and bigger every year," he said.
For more information about the American Cancer Society, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer effort or services available for survivors, call (239) 936-1113 or visit online at: www.cancer.org/.