People attending the Cancer Society’s ‘Music in the Garden’ event were treated to a myriad of music and dance performances. (L-R Chris Cates, volunteer – fundraising; special guest musician, Travis Bodie out of New Providence; (top right) soloist Donn Parker; and (bottom right) soloist, Hadassah Thompson).

(Eleuthera, The Bahamas) – Thoroughly satiated, following a beautiful evening of music and warmth, smiles filled the faces of people leaving the grounds of the Cancer Society Wellness Center in Palmetto Point on Saturday night, December 5th, 2015.  For just over two special hours on the evening the Cancer Society, Eleuthera Branch, heralded in the beginning of the Christmas Season in grand style, with their annual Music in the Garden and Tree Lighting fundraiser event, which saw more than 200 people from all over the island come out to enjoy the spectacle of music, dance, and song and give back to their brothers and sisters across Eleuthera suffering with cancer.
The audience was treated to a program filled with refreshing and a very enjoyable variety of selections, with talented local bands – like the Freedom Marching Band and the Hatchet Bay Dinner Band, which both brought their own unique style to the classic sounds of Christmas.  Special guest saxophonist, Travis Bodie, out of New Providence also caressed the ears of the audience with his smooth and melodious holiday tunes, while home grown guitarist and singer, Clement Fowler of Harbour Island, tugged on heart strings as well as those of his instrument with a song dedicated to a family member with cancer.
Liturgical dancers from Fountain of Life Kingdom Ministries in South Eleuthera presented a beautifully expressive and emotional interpretation of a musical worship piece, along with a talented presentation by lone dancer, Shelly Elize of North Eleuthera.  Soloist, Donn Parker, had the crowd swaying with nostalgia as he crooned the Luther Vandross holiday favorite, “Every Year, Every Christmas”, while young singer, Hadassah Thompson, belted out a ‘Jackson Five’ holiday classic accompanied by the Freedom Band, and local soloist Brendalee Petty brought her usual Mahalia like vocals to thrill the audience.
A variety of choir, and group performances were also in the lineup of treats during the evening; including the masterful Global Outreach Ministries Chorale from James’ Cistern; the melodious Light House Baptist Church Creole Men’s Group out of North Eleuthera, which sang A Capella, while thrilling the audience with their stellar attire; a duet group, with Kristy Ferguson of South Eleuthera performed with beautifully blended voices; and the Creole Youth Group from Church of The Nazarene in Central Eleuthera also raised their voices in praise.

The hardworking team at the Cancer Society, Eleuthera branch (L-R) – Christie Cadet, Sherry Cann, Susan Culmer, Juanita Pinder, Jacqueline Gibson, and Chris Cates (volunteer – fundraising).

Throughout the performances the dynamic team at the Eleuthera Branch of the Cancer Society, headed by President, Jacqueline Gibson; Vice President, Juanita Pinder; Treasurer, Susan Culmer; Secretary, Sherry Cann; as well as volunteers – Chris Cates, Fundraising; and Rev. Kevin Pinder, Master of Ceremonies – entreated the audience to give generously to the Society’s cause of giving hope and help to those struggling with cancer on the island.  Cates highlighted that the team was encouraging as many people as possible on Eleuthera to give just $5 per month to the Society, to help keep the work of the Society going.  The ambitious goal of having a state of the art mammogram machine at the Wellness Center was also said to be close at hand, with thousands of dollars already invested in the Wellness Center building toward structural changes necessary to host the new equipment – which they informed was expected to be in place in 2016.
The evening which began with the lighting of the evergreen Christmas tree on the grounds of the Cancer Society’s Wellness Center, closed out with Susan Culmer delivering the vote of thanks to all the evening’s performers, the organizers behind the scenes that had made things happen, also to the crowd of people who came out and enjoyed the event with their families and gave generously of their financial resources to help in the fight against cancer on Eleuthera.  This major annual fundraiser for the Society, reported Susan, brought in more than $8,000 in cash and pledged donations during the evening, funds which were said to be critically needed to keep the doors of the Wellness Center open.
The team at the Society also saw fit to recognize the contributions of Mr. Chris Gosling, who was said to have tirelessly driven the HACE (Health Association of Central Eleuthera) ambulance every year, at the Cancer Society Walk-a-thon, since the year it started, which always began well before dawn, held each October.  While accepting his certificate and gift, presented by President Jacqueline Gibson, Mr. Gosling, a now retired Auto Mechanics teacher, lauded his fellow volunteer drivers at HACE, including Neville Sands and Jason Thompson, and emphasized that Mrs. Allison Gosling, his wife, was the backbone of support for all of his efforts, and was also now a part of the volunteer driver team at HACE.