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The seventh annual Valley of Hope Gala and Auction was able to raise $108,000 for the American Cancer Society this year. On Friday, the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center/Dignity Health presented $15,000 to the organization, which raises money for cancer research.

The Valley of Hope Gala that raises money for the American Cancer Society went virtual this year. Even though it wasn't the large outdoor event it typically is, organizers say that local donors stepped up for their annual fundraiser and raised $108,000.

The digital gala took place last month, and on Friday the American Cancer Society held a news conference to accept a $15,000 check from the presenting sponsors, the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center of Dignity Health. The Adventist Health Bakersfield-AIS Cancer Center was also a key sponsor.

"In coming together and supporting these organizations, specifically these nonprofit organizations, we have a mission that doesn't stop," said Robin Mangarin-Scott, a spokeswoman for Dignity Health. "This mission is to find a cure for cancer, and we all want to make sure that happens."

The American Cancer Society raised about two-thirds of what it does at its annual gala, according to community development manager Lara Weberling. On the other hand, she points out expenses were down, since there wasn't a large event. A lot of the fundraising that the society does is event-focused and so it is down considerably nationally, but she says the fundraising that happened locally is a "bright spot" for the community. The funds will go toward American Cancer Society programs and patient services in Bakersfield and Kern County.

Weberling notes that the local American Cancer Society has downsized and moved its offices to the Discovery Shop at 5420 California Ave. She said the shop is looking for volunteers to help staff the shop, since many of the usual volunteers are older and more at risk of complications from coronavirus.

Anyone newly diagnosed with cancer can visit cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345 for help and resources.