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The Regional Medical Center is preparing an evening designed to replicate the alluring mystique of a North African country as it plans a fundraiser to combat cancer.

The 23rd annual RMC Foundation Gala will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Orangeburg Country Club. A silent auction will be featured, along with a live auction. The theme for this year’s gala, presented by Zeus, will be “Meet Me in Morocco.”

The event is being chaired by Orangeburg couples Russ and Leslie Fender and Todd and Monica McElhone. The proceeds will go to support the H. Filmore Mabry Center for Cancer Care.

“The event is a fantastically fun evening. I’ve always looked at it as a way to support not only the hospital, but also the local doctors, surgeons, nurses, everybody,” Russ Fender said.

The food for the gala will be prepared by the Orangeburg Country Club and include zaalouk salad, chicken and beef kabobs, shrimp and oyster shooters, whole-lamb barbecue, briouats and an array of desserts, including Moroccan doughnuts.

The Finesse Band will provide the night’s entertainment. In addition to high energy dance music, the six-member Columbia-based group also performs classy jazz sets.

Everything from Prada sunglasses and handmade leather bags and earrings to a private wine tasting tour in Napa Valley and a trip to Costa Rica will be among the auction items.

This year's gala attire will be black tie optional. 

Fender said while he and wife had helped with gala planning in the past, this is the first time they have served as co-chairs of the event.

“I will say that it’s a community effort. The committee is reaching out into the community, and everyone realizes the importance of the hospital. And so it’s a fairly worthy cause. Every family has a cancer story in it. It’s just a very challenging disease,” he said.

Todd McElhone and his wife have also worked with the committee in the past and for the first time this year are serving as co-chairs for the event.

“We are very fortunate to have a great committee. One of the things that everybody looks at is making sure that the night of March 17 is a fun time. And it certainly will be, especially with the Moroccan theme. But this year we also certainly tried to put more focus on the bigger picture of raising funds for the Foundation, and specifically the Mabry Center,” he said.

Monica McElhone said, “My husband and I were so thrilled to be involved this year as co-chairs with the Fenders. This year we’ve kind of had our hand in everything, and we know that we couldn’t do any of the work without the committee.”

She added, “This is always just a great and fun event for our community. I think it’s just something that everyone should support since the hospital serves us all.”

Margaret Frierson, RMC Foundation executive director, said the Mabry Cancer Center is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including a linear accelerator that delivers radiation therapy and is one of the newest in the state.

“Our affiliation with the Medical University of South Carolina just brings that much more for us to provide to our patients,” she said, noting that proceeds from the gala also go toward helping cancer patients with transportation and medication costs.

Russ Fender said, “It’s more than just the medical piece that we’re going to use this money for. It’s very much designated to help … people in the community.”

Previous galas have brought in as much as $100,000. This year’s fundraising goal is $80,000.

The 2018 event is steered by a 30-member committee.

Frierson said, “Our Foundation couldn’t function without our volunteers. They all have heart and really care about what they’re doing. Everybody’s just so creative and bring different talents to the table.”

The cost per person is $150, or $250 per couple. To make reservations or to learn more about the 2018 gala, call the RMC Foundation at 803-395-2321 or visit their Facebook page at

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter @DionneTandD.


Staff Writer

Dionne Gleaton has been a staff writer with The T&D for 20 years. She has been an education reporter, regional reporter and currently writes features with an emphasis on health.

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