Since she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, Brenda Najera has traveled at least 200 times to Grand Junction, Colorado, putting 4,000 miles on her car.
While Moab Regional Hospital has a cancer treatment center, some patients like Najera face unique situations that require travel to larger hospitals.
“Some people have had to move to Grand Junction,” while undergoing treatments, Najera said. “They’ve lost jobs; they’re away from their families.”
The American Cancer Society held a fundraiser last fall in Moab where half the money raised went toward gas cards for patients who need medical care in Salt Lake City or Grand Junction. With those funds now almost depleted, the Moab Healthcare Foundation – a nonprofit dedicated to supporting area medical services – is hosting its first big fundraising event to raise money for the transportation program and support other healthcare entities in Moab.
Najera approached the foundation with an idea that would raise money while transporting people back to the “Roaring Twenties.” The event at the HooDoo Hotel Grand Ballroom will include showgirls, live music, appetizers, dinner, dancing, and more.
“It will have a Gatsby theme – something like Moab has never seen before,” said Najera, who began planning the event a year ago. “We’ve worked hard to create a unique event.”
The Moab Swing Dance Community will demonstrate Charleston and East Coast Swing dances.
Grand Junction DJ Ryan Griz will spin tunes throughout the evening, along with live music performed by Dave Steward and other local musicians.
Following appetizers, a dinner prepared by the hotel’s Josie Wyatt’s Grille will be served. Guests will choose between a grilled steak with red wine and mushroom demi-glace, or a vegetarian entrée consisting of penne pasta with vodka tomato cream sauce with spinach and artichoke hearts. Dinner also includes au gratin potatoes, salad, and a choice of desserts – either lemon cake or a tuxedo truffle mousse cake.
Fancy cocktails with names such as “Two Pins and a Skirt” (slang for women with long legs, Najera said), and “Sleepin’ with the Fishes” will be for sale, adding to the festive Gatsby theme.
“It’s going to be a fun night – there will be something to keep people entertained,” Najera said.
The hotel is offering discounted rooms that evening for those who want to stay the night.
Tickets are $85, 100% of which stays in Moab, said organizers.
“This is an event by locals and for locals; every dollar stays in the community,” MHF board member Beth Logan said. “This is the foundation’s first big shindig. We’re hoping to attract a lot of people who want to make a difference.”
Organizers expect the event to sell out.
Despite or because of her own health issues, Najera is sympathetic toward others who might have a hard time affording travel costs.
“I saw a need and was fortunate to have the support of the foundation,” she said.
Additional money will be raised during the event via both live and silent auctions, the latter of which will also be online and open to people not attending the gala. Auction items include travel packages to Ireland, as well as numerous items donated by Moab and Grand Junction businesses. The auction closes the evening of Nov. 9 at 9 p.m.
Formerly Friends of Canyonlands Care Center, the charitable organization changed its name to Moab Healthcare Foundation and expanded its mission to support multiple health organizations in Moab, including Moab Regional Hospital, Canyonlands Care Center, Grand County Hospice, Moab Free Health Clinic, Grand County Emergency Medical Services, and Grand County Search and Rescue.
For more information, go to mhfmoab.org/red-rock-soiree/.