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HOPE Ball aims to raise $45,000

Eric Venable, along with, from left, his daughters Melissa and Laine and his wife Jill, is the honoree for the the 2012 HOPE Ball.

Eric Venable, along with, from left, his daughters Melissa and Laine and his wife Jill, is the honoree for the the 2012 HOPE Ball.

ALBANY -- A few years ago, renewed hope was instilled in Eric Venable after making it through a bout of testicular cancer.

He's hoping more people in the community going through the same thing he did will be able to share that feeling.

Venable is serving as the honoree for the fifth annual HOPE Ball, which is taking place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn on South Front Street.

The black tie optional event will include a social hour, formal dinner with complimentary wine, a cash bar, silent and live auctions and dancing.

There will be a VIP room set up, which is being sponsored by 13th Colony Distillery.

Committee members are currently soliciting auction items for the event. Among the top items will be a one-week trip aboard a yacht off the coast of Turkey.

Entertainment at the gala will be provided by the Hollywood Band from Macon.

Invitations to the event were sent out last week. There were 350 attendees at last year's event, which ended up raising $41,000.

This year, the goal is $45,000.

"We are working very diligently to meet that goal," Jessica Davis, American Cancer Society senior community manager. "There are so many humble diseases out there, but cancer touches us all."

Jill Venable, Eric Venable's wife, remembers seeing the warning signs in her husband in late 2005 -- by which time he had lost close to 40 pounds. Once the bloodwork was done, their worst fears were realized.

The next step was the treatment process.

"They put the port in, and started chemo that January," Jill Venable recalled. "They did three months of chemo. His lymph nodes were big enough to push away organs."

While in chemotherapy, he had a reputation for keeping patients entertained.

"He had more fun at chemo than anyone I've ever seen," his wife said.

Luckily, his cancer was responsive to the chemo -- and it ended up being unnecessary to take his lymph nodes out. He now gets scanned once a year, and remains off chemo.

There are some things that Eric Venable can't do anymore, but as far as he's concerned, that pales in comparison to the bigger picture.

"When I was sitting there and taking the drugs...I was lucky to be alive," he said. "I sat there thinking, why me?

"It's bad, but you forget about it. I feel the reason I'm here is because of people raising money."

As a direct result of his experience, he said he is all for helping others battling cancer to see another day.

"(Having cancer) changes the whole way you look at things," Eric Venable said. "Raising money is what it's all about.

"My hope is that (the HOPE Ball) extends its goal and raises more than it did last year."

Admission to the HOPE Ball is $100 per person. Funds go to benefit the Cancer Society.

Tickets are now on sale. For more information, go to www.hopeballalbanyga.org or call the ACS at (229) 446-1073.