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Gala raises record amount for breast cancer battle

Dozens of cancer survivors take to the stage to celebrate at Nite of Hope Thursday evening

Laughter, tears and – above all else – hope filled Centennial Arena Thursday evening, as a fundraising gala brought in a record amount of money for the fight against breast cancer.

The sixth annual Nite of Hope raked in more than $310,000 to fund research efforts at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The total from this year well exceeded the final tally of the 2010 Nite of Hope, which raised $202,177.

This year's gala – themed Image of Hope – featured keynote speaker Dr. Ian Gardiner, director of advanced breast imaging at Canada Diagnostic Centres, whose speech was infused with optimism.

"We are on the verge of defeating breast cancer. We have this disease on the run," he told the sold-out crowd of more than 550 people. "That's occurring because of the work people like you are doing in participating in events like this. We are going to see the end of breast cancer, I'm convinced, before the end of my career."

After Gardiner's address, dozens of cancer survivors were invited on stage – some with beaming smiles and others wiping away tears – as singer Angela Maffin performed an uplifting song, accompanied by Loverboy's Doug Johnson.

The event, MCed by Global meteorologist Kristi Gordon, also included a silent and live auction, several raffles and giveaways and performances by the Source Dance Team, 12-year-old Cole Armour and Kierah of Irish Madness.