Thursday, July 18, 2024

Sweetheart deal

Staff Writer | January 9, 2024 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — The Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation’s Country Sweethearts dinner and auction has leveled up this year. The event is set for February 3.

In years past the benefit was held in the Commercial Building at the Grant County Fairgrounds, but this year it will occupy both that building and the one next door, said CBCF Executive Director Angel Ledesma. Last year’s event drew 520 guests, which made things a little tight with all the auction items as well.

“I take this as a compliment,” Ledesma said. “(Some guests have said) ‘Could you please make more room for the tables?’ So this year, we added the 4-H Building. All the raffle items will be in the 4-H Building, so that leaves us room for all tables and all guests in the main room.”

Auctioneer Chuck Yarbro Jr. will conduct the live auction. Dinner will consist of barbecued baby back ribs and chicken catered by Michael’s On The Lake, with desserts from several local dessert makers. 

This is the 15th year the foundation has held the fundraiser. The auction had to be held virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned in 2022 and 2023 in a hybrid live-online format. This year’s auction will be totally live, Ledesma said, with no virtual bidding.

Auction items are varied and reflect the local community. One item on the block is a Cruzin’ Cooler and wagon, an electric scooter with a beer cooler built in. It’s donated by Ten Pin Tap House, which threw in a year’s worth of beer for good measure.

Also up for bidding is Mother’s Day weekend at the Walla Walla Hot Air Balloon Festival, with two nights at the Eritage Resort, a hot air balloon flight and a $300 gift card for food.

The Country Sweethearts auction is the foundation’s biggest source of funding. Last year’s event raised more than $250,000, which went to support local cancer patients. Because so much cancer treatment has to be done out of town, gas costs can mount up, and the CBCF covers gas cards to help defray that cost. Lodging, too, can get expensive, and funds raised at the Country Sweethearts auction help with that as well. 

Money from the auction also helps with the Meals to Heal program, which delivers free, healthy meals to CBCF clients and their families. 

“In 2023, our volunteers, who are awesome, delivered over 830 meals,” Ledesma said. “This is a program that's powered by volunteers; we have specific drivers who do it all the time. They've clocked over 4,000 miles through Grant and Adams counties.”

Part of the Meals to Heal program includes deliveries of bone broth to patients whose treatments make it hard to keep food down, Ledesma said. Ernie’s Meats in Moses Lake supplies the bones, and volunteer Stephanie Maiers turns them into broth.

“They need a lot of nutrition in small amounts of liquids, so drinking some of that is going to give you the boost that you need,” Ledesma said. “Nutrition-wise, it's packed full of good stuff.”

The Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation was created in 2000 by Howard Gallion, who had lost his wife Lois to cancer in 1998. The Gallions had moved to Moses Lake five years earlier, only to find there was no cancer treatment facility in the area. 

The foundation is accepting donated items for the auction through Thursday. Tickets are also on sale through the foundation’s website, for $103 for an individual or $823 for a table of eight. 

“We’ll have a couple of cancer warriors; one in particular will give a talk, and we’ll show some video and remind the guests why we’re here and what we do and that their support means so much,” Ledesma said.

Tickets and information are available at the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation website,

Joel Martin may be reached via email at

Country Sweethearts

5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3

Grant County Fairgrounds

Moses Lake

    Attendees examine a silent auction item made up of cookware at the 2023 Country Sweethearts event. This year’s event is Feb. 3
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    Auctioneer Chuck Yarbro Jr. gets the crowd rolling for the live auction portion of the festivities during the 2023 Country Sweethearts event.
 File photo 

    Attendees enjoy dinner at the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation’s 2023 Country Sweethearts event.
 File photo