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Main Event: Hope Lodge is 'second home' for some patients

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The 10th annual Evening of Hope Gala, a benefit for the Sandra J. Schulze American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, brought the community together in support of a place of comfort and rest for those on the cancer journey.

About 250 people attended the gala, which was held at the Kahler Grand Hotel, and raised more than $110,000 for operational expenses at Hope Lodge. The 60-room facility provides lodging, free of charge, to patients who have traveled to Rochester for cancer treatment.

Jammie McGuire, Hope Lodge manager, said the facility is always full and almost always has a waiting list. Each year it serves 1,500 people.

"We are just so grateful for the sponsors and community support at the gala," McGuire said. "It's been an amazing year for support from the community."

The evening included a reception, dinner, dessert auction, and both live and silent auctions. Following dinner, Hope Lodge guest speaker Lucy Bernasspoke to attendees about her cancer journey and her stay at the lodge.

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Bernas was a guest at the lodge for three months and found comfort in reaching out to others and cooking her signature egg rolls for Hope Lodge patients.

"Hope Lodge is my second home," she said. "I'm devoted to this place."

Bernas' friend, Jennifer Filek, accompanied her to the event.

"Lucy has an amazing faith that has gotten her to this point," Filek said.

With her passion for living life to the fullest, Bernas was an inspiration to many at Hope Lodge.

Emilie Zehr,from Des Moines, Iowa, who has also been a guest at the lodge, attended the event with her husband Douglas, extended family, and friends.

"Staying there relieved the stress of having to find a hotel," Zehr said. "They were very helpful. We liked Tuesday night potluck especially because my husband likes to cook."

Dr. Kathryn Ruddy, who is a breast medical oncologist with Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, attended the event with her husband, Dr. Peter Noseworthy.

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"My patients take advantage of the services of the American Cancer Society," Ruddy said. "It's a fantastic organization to support and a big part of how we can help patients."

Gloria Willingham, who attended the gala with her husband, Ty, was a guest at Hope Lodge last year.

"It's a wonderful place," she said. "Everyone is so welcoming. It was a place I could call my second home when I was going through a rough time. It's a place of comfort."

Cheryland Marc Hadawayattended the event for the first time. Cheryl is an employee of Mayo Clinic, and they were attending to support the work of Hope Lodge.

"Hospitality homes are very important to our patients," Cheryl said. "It's a tremendous help to cancer patients. Eases their burden."

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