The Norman Transcript

September 1, 2013

Stage 4 Life assisting cancer patients through fundraiser

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Stage 4 Life, a local nonprofit organization, will have its annual fundraiser from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday at Riverwind Casino. The event will include a catered dinner. Tickets are $35 each.

The theme for this year’s event is “Calling All Angels.”

“Our goal is to not only raise funds to assist Stage 4 (cancer) patients, those we call ‘heroes,’ but also to sign up individuals, ‘angels,’ who can be called upon at a future time to provide a product or service,” Stage 4 Life board member Tina Viray said. “There are lawyers, dentists, hairdressers, babysitters and landscapers, among others who — when called upon — can fulfill the wish of one of our ‘heroes.’”

Stage 4 Life came about as a result of Sheryl Auringer’s battle with breast cancer. She saw organizations racing for a cure and making children’s wishes come true but none that addressed the needs of adults with Stage 4 cancer diagnoses.

Before Auringer died from breast cancer in January 2009, she wrote a letter to her family and friends. Until about two years ago, that letter remained packed away in a box. Auringer’s sisters, Jaime Tally and Marci Mitchell, just couldn’t bring themselves to open it.

But, eventually, the sisters built up the courage and opened that letter. What Tally and Mitchell realized from the words that Auringer wrote all those years ago was that their sister’s kind spirit and big heart were still alive today.

“It (the letter) said, ‘I want to form this foundation called Stage 4 Life for cancer patients and their families.’ It’s not all about breast cancer now. Then she preceded to say it’s going to be as if it were a Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Auringer’s friend, Cris Shutt, said. “We are going to help people, I don’t care if they want a backyard makeover or maybe they want to go to a Thunder game or maybe they want attorney bill’s paid.”

Over the years, the group has fulfilled many heroes’ wishes. They’ve sent a family to a Dallas Cowboys football game with three days at Great Wolf Lodge. They provided landscaping to patient’s homes, an iPad with accessories and had a tree removed that threatened a woman’s home.

“Our most recent request was from a 19-year-old young woman named Maddy whose dream was to work in the fashion industry,” Shutt said. “Working with the Affinia Hotel in New York City and Southwest Airlines, we arranged for her to tour several fashion houses escorted by Jonathan Kayne from ‘Project Runway.’

“Sadly, Maddy passed away before she could make the trip. We were all devastated. However, her family assured us that just the thought of making that trip allowed her to focus on something other than her treatments.”

This year, the group will present the first-ever Stage 4 Life Award of Excellence to Patty Gasso. Gasso not only led the University of Oklahoma women’s softball team to win the National Championship, she did so while going above and beyond to assist those affected by the May 20 tornadoes in Moore.

“Patty is a shinning example of the Stage 4 Life mission, which is to bring an opportunity for laughter and relief to Stage 4 cancer patients. She went out of her way to provide this opportunity for the people of Moore.” said Viray.

The event will include a live and silent auction, a raffle, a cake auction and wine pull as well as many door prizes. The items being auctioned off include an autographed guitar from Toby Keith, a cocktail dress designed by Johnathan Kayne, concert tickets with hotel stay at Riverwind Casino, a 10-night stay in Costa Rica and more.

For more information on the event, email Viray at tinaviray@verizon.net.

For more information on Stage 4 Life, visit stage4life.com.