Fund-raisers to hold ‘An Evening of Hope’

Dinner and auction to assist Montgomery 13-year-old battling cancer.

By: Jill Matthews
   MONTGOMERY— Most residents of the township are familiar with the story of Hope Bertelsen, a 13-year-old middle school student battling cancer.
   Many have participated in small fund-raisers, such as bake sales, to help the Bertelsen family pay for her costly medical treatments, which are often not covered by insurance.
   But while the small fund-raisers are certainly helpful and encouraging, some community members worried that they did not make even a dent in the financial costs related to Hope’s illness.
   And so began "An Evening of Hope."
   "An Evening of Hope" is a community dinner and auction that will take place 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton Township. The last day to register for the event is Feb. 24. No walk-ins will be permitted.
   "We started calling friends to see if they wanted to get involved and instantly we had 20 women who wanted to be on the committee," said Beth Fitzgerald, one of the organizers of "An Evening of Hope."
   The idea was great, but how to transform it into a real event that raised significant money posed a big challenge for the group.
   Organizers of the event were particularly unsure how businesses and individuals would respond to calls for donations of auction items.
   "We were struggling with that in the beginning," said Ms. Fitzgerald. "We did not know if we would get a good response because we are not a 501(c)3 nonprofit."
   But their worries proved to be unfounded.
   The event will have both live and silent auctions and include over 200 items donated by various individuals and businesses in the area.
   Some of the auction items include: a drumhead autographed by Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band; an Alex Rodriguez autographed baseball; two separate vacations to Vermont; one trip to Lake Placid, N.Y.; an antique table from the Duncan Campbell farm in Montgomery; a pinball machine; a night in New York City including a limousine ride, a $200 dinner and two tickets to see the musical "Hairspray"; and a Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth Hall of Fame numbered print with its original certification.
   Organizers of the event expect over 400 attendees and have already collected $6,000 in donations from people who could not make it to the event but wanted to contribute.
   The evening will include an open bar until 10:30 p.m. and a buffet dinner with various stations including Mexican, pasta, Chinese, a carving station with either pork or turkey and a large dessert station.
   A pianist will perform during cocktail hour and the eighth-grade chorus will sing a few songs for additional entertainment.
   Hope’s uncle, Phil Bertelsen, a film producer, will play a 15-minute video he made chronicling her life and a fund-raising quilt made by numerous members of the community will be presented to the family.
   General tickets cost $70 and those wishing to make a donation of $100 will be listed in the evening’s program as a sponsor.
   While the event is not a black-tie affair, jeans are discouraged. Guests are asked to wear business casual or semi-formal attire.
   "Every day there is something that gives me chills because of the generosity and strong outpouring for this little girl," said Ms. Fitzgerald.
   Hope was diagnosed last May with neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer that affects the nervous system.
   Neuroblastoma, which primarily affects younger children, is rarer and more aggressive in those approaching their early teens.
   Hope recently went through stem-cell replacement surgery and will be in intensive care for a couple of weeks, according to a Web site maintained by her parents.
   More information on "An Evening of Hope" can be found at the Web site,, or by calling Beth Fitzgerald at (609) 466-6975.