The 7th BrAva Mom Prom, a sold-out, women-only fundraiser conducted by BrAva, a local nonprofit that seeks to increase childhood cancer awareness and raise funds for a cure, raised more than $49,000 for the cause at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Friday, April 22, in Marietta, Ohio. This was the first time the event has been held since spring 2019, due to the pandemic.

“We are so glad we were finally able to bring this event back to life this year, as it’s our biggest fundraiser for BrAva,” said vice president, Erin Roberts. “The energy at the event on Friday evening was incredible, with both attendees who had attended before and were excited to be back and with new guests who were experiencing the magical night for the first time. We are so thankful for the attendees who have helped to make it one of the area’s premier events.”

Area women dance during the 7th BrAva Mom Prom on Friday, April 22 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. (Melissa McConnell)

The money was raised through admission, raffle, luminary and drink sales. The event, complete with a deejay, an emcee, lighting and décor, featured a mob dance, raffles and the crowning of four Mom Prom Queens: local mothers who have had a child battle cancer. The event was filled to capacity with 500 guests, who each paid $50 and were treated to food, dancing, a raffle and a swag gift of a BrAva wine glass at the event’s conclusion. Two gold carpet photo areas with event backdrops were also available to guests, and photos will be available soon.

Allie Ford, of Waterford, whose son Jensen passed away from cancer just days after his first birthday in 2019, was honored as one of the 2022 BrAva Mom Prom Queens, and said the event was “spectacular.”

“It was my biggest honor to be crowned a BrAva Mom Prom Queen in memory of my son Jensen,” Ford said. “His story was heard by all of these women in the community, and they were able to see the fun baby he once was and the extremely sick baby he became. It was very emotional during the coronation ceremony, but overall, it was great that everyone was able to come together to have fun while raising money for such an important cause.”

BrAva Mom Prom Queen Missy Plumly, left, is crowned by BrAva President Traci Nichols, as fellow queen Jeanna Plumly looks on. (Melissa McConnell)

Additional queens honored were Marina Hopkins, of Little Hocking; and Missy and Jeanna Plumly, of Parkersburg, W. Va. In addition, the mothers of more than 15 other children who have been helped by BrAva were in attendance as guests of the committee.

New at this year’s event was a check presentation to CureSearch, a national organization exclusively focused on childhood cancer. While BrAva has donated to CureSearch nearly every year since its founding in 2011, this was the first time the annual donation was presented at BrAva Mom Prom.

Denis Elsas, a CureSearch campaign development manager, of Versailles, Ohio, made the trip to attend the event and receive the check on behalf of CureSearch.

“It was an incredible event, and CureSearch is so thankful to BrAva for its support over the years and their impact on the 47 children in the U.S. who are diagnosed with cancer each day,” Elsas said. “The BrAva committee’s efforts and fundraising help us to fulfill our mission of research and getting treatment to the bedside of patients much quicker.”

BrAva President Traci Nichols and Committee Member Desni Crock present a $20,000 check to CureSearch representative Denise Elsas. BrAva Vice President Erin Roberts, at right, stands by. (Melissa McConnell)

BrAva President Traci Nichols, the mother of Ava Nichols, who passed away from a cancerous brain tumor in 2012, says the work of the committee and subcommittee are key to the event’s success.

“I just keep thinking that I can’t believe we raised so much,” Nichols said. “Everything went so well, and the committee and subcommittee volunteers worked like a well-oiled machine. I could not ask for a better, more loving and hardworking committee!”

Major event sponsors included Amy’s Flower Shoppe, Astorg Auto, HAAS Septic Tank and Portable Toilet Services, Kesterson Cleaners & Launderers, Libbey, Inc., Lisa’s Sweet Stop, Premier Productions, Marietta Brewing Company, Melissa Rose Photography and Smith Concrete. More than 80 additional sponsors contributed to event support, the raffle and swag items. For a full list of sponsors, visit http://bravamomprom.com/event-sponsors/.

BrAva is a nonprofit organization. Its name is a combination of Bridget Crock and Ava Nichols, two local girls who faced the challenges of childhood cancer. In honor of Bridget and in memory of Ava, BrAva seeks to help other families faced with the disease by providing funding and support. To date, BrAva has donated more than $520,000 back to local families and CureSearch.

BrAva accepts donations year-round via mail at P.O. Box 535, Marietta, OH 45750 or online, via PayPal at bravacares@gmail.com. Plans for the 2023 BrAva Mom Prom event are underway, with tickets likely going on sale in late February 2023.

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