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Soul singer Gladys Knight takes the stage at the Magnolia Ball.

It was a star-studded event on May 6 as Gladys Knight took the stage and sang some of her classic hits at Moffitt Cancer Center’s 28th annual Magnolia Ball. Over 650 cancer center supporters gathered in the ballroom of the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street to raise over $3.4 million for innovative cancer research and treatment.

Jamie Losito and family take the stage at the Magnolia Ball to thank donors for their generous support.

Maria Muller, left, introduces Jamie and Gene Losito with son Landon and daughter Madison. The family thanked the donors for their generous support.

The sold-out event kicked off with a live showing of the Kentucky Derby followed by a special performance from The ReMissions, a band made up of Moffitt team members, including CEO Patrick Hwu, M.D. Over dinner, guests met Jamie Losito, who at the age of 32 had the biggest fight of her life: She was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a week later, she found out she was pregnant. Before coming to Moffitt, Losito thought she would have to choose between her daughter’s life and hers. But after getting a second opinion at the cancer center, she quickly learned that she didn’t have to make a choice. Joined by her family, Losito took the stage to show her appreciation to Moffitt for saving not only her life but also her daughter’s. She thanked the donors for their continuous support.

Since 1994, the Magnolia Ball, the cancer center’s signature event, has raised millions for Moffitt’s cancer fighting efforts to help patients like Losito. And this year’s event was no different thanks to generous supporters.

“Over many years the Magnolia Ball has been the premier fundraising event in Tampa Bay,” said Maria Muller, president of Moffitt’s Foundation. “Each year, we raise millions to help the cancer center fund breakthrough treatments, giving our patients the best possible outcomes.”

Guests at the black-tie event, which was chaired by Bob and Lorraine Dutkowsky, got the chance to bid on items in a live and silent auction. These items included a stay in the Pepin family’s 12,000-square-foot getaway in the mountains of North Carolina. The bidding for the retreat broke records, selling twice for $100,000. A special thanks goes to Fly Alliance, which donated two round-trip tickets aboard a luxurious private jet to Ashville for use by the guests who won this package.

The auction also included the “Hope and Courage” paintings by Keland Lamke. The 11-year-old created the two acrylic pour paintings to thank Moffitt for saving his mother, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The pieces sold for $625 and $325. 

In addition to dinner and the auctions, guests hit the dance floor during the highly anticipated afterparty featuring DJ Fresh. 

“The ball is truly an inspirational event where we are reminded of Moffitt’s incredible impact and a wonderful community comes together to make a difference,” Muller said. “I am grateful for all our Moffitt supporters who came out and celebrated with us during this year’s ball.”

H. Lee Moffitt addresses the crowd at Magnolia Ball.

Moffitt's founder H. Lee Moffitt thanks the crowd for raising a record