Two of Santa Barbara’s longtime nonprofit health-care providers have joined forces with a shared vision of enhancing cancer care, and nearly 500 community members, donors, local businesses and celebrities celebrated in style to support the partnership of the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic.

Upon arrival to Isla Mar, the private and historic Hope Ranch estate of Geoffrey Claflin Rusack and Alison Wrigley Rusack, guests were treated to Rusack wines and a variety of farmers market-fresh appetizers as they explored the estate grounds overlooking the Pacific. Jugglers, mimes and other street performers guided guests into the main event tent, the captivating locale of a sumptuous three-course meal featuring the food of Rincon Events and Celebrity Chef Jamie West.

The delightful dinner was just the start of the evening’s magic. Remarks were delivered by Sansum Clinic’s CEO and chief medical officer, Kurt Ransohoff MD; Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara’s president, Rick Scott; and breast cancer survivor and support group facilitator for the Cancer Center, Hollye Jacobs RN, MS, MSW. All spoke to the importance of the partnership for our community’s cancer patients and their families, and thanked event sponsors and donors for their overwhelming support.

The thrill of the evening escalated when Rickey Minor and the Tonight Show Band took the stage, playing Jay Leno into the spotlight where he kicked off an exciting and hugely successful live auction. Auction items included a world-class cruise for two with Azamara Club; an Epicurean Adventure featuring a kitchen tour and meet-and-greet at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry; dinner with George Stephanopoulos and Alexandra Wentworth in New York City; a Swiss-made Corum Watch; Manchester United VIP Soccer Experience; a walk-on role in two-time Oscar-winner Ben Affleck’s next film; an all-electric Fiat 500e; a deluxe Las Vegas vacation for four including round-trip private jet air travel; and an opportunity to spend time with the auctioneer himself with VIP tickets to The Tonight Show and insider-access to his famed car collection. The live auction concluded with an item everyone could participate in, a paddle-raise to support cancer patients in our community as they journey with, through and beyond cancer.

In total, the evening raised more than $1 million in support of the Cancer Center’s Patient Assistance, Wellness and Support Programs, which aid patients with all aspects of healing with services like financial assistance for those who lack insurance; practical assistance with co-pays, insurance coverage and travel expenses; nurse navigation; nutrition counseling; support groups; individual and family counseling; classes such as yoga, tai chi, painting, writing, meditation and laughter; cancer prevention and colon cancer screening programs; and hereditary cancer risk counseling for patients and families.

“These programs cost us $1.4 million to fund each year, and we know they are truly vital in helping patients not only survive cancer — but to thrive during and after a diagnosis,” Scott explained. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to inform our community of these programs and to celebrate our recent partnership with Sansum Clinic. We are overwhelmed by the outstanding support shown tonight.”

“Bringing together these two teams has already brought us tremendous benefit, and tonight’s event is a wonderful example of what is possible when two organizations come together with a shared vision,” Ransohoff said. “We are experiencing greater collaboration and coordination with our expanded team of physicians, and as we look to the future, we see great opportunities for expanded clinical research, enhanced recruitment of highly trained medical personnel, and acquisition of new technology that will allow us to continue delivering exceptional care.

“This partnership brings together the right people and the right tools in the right healing environment so that patients can receive the cancer treatments they need close to home, right here in the community that supports them so well.”

Details of the evening were orchestrated by three outstanding event co-chairwomen: Julie Nadel, Tracie Fiss and Christy Kolva, who led the Cancer Center and Sansum Clinic staff and Ambassador /Honorary Committees in organizing the gala, the first-ever of this kind for either organization.

“It is truly incredible what can happen when the community comes together to support an important cause,” said Nadel, a devoted donor and friend to Sansum Clinic, who was also at the helm of the clinic’s 90th Anniversary Celebration in 2011. “This all started when my co-chair Tracie Fiss was moved to help the Cancer Center in gratitude for the care her father received from Dr. Kass and his colleagues.”

Community members are encouraged to learn more about the programs and services offered at the Cancer Center and to continue supporting this important cause. Click here for more information.

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic Gala was made possible by the support of individual and corporate sponsors, including Platinum-level Union Bank and Mentor; Gold sponsors Classic Party Rentals, Cox, Anthem Blue Cross and Rincon Events; Silver sponsors Beneflex Insurance Services, Bertling & Clausen LLP, G.L. Bruno Associates Inc., Canterbury Consulting, Cottage Health System, HUB International, Montecito Bank & Trust and Worthe Real Estate Group. Bronze sponsors included Keith C. Berry, Boulder Associates Inc., Elekta, Jim Lewis, Network Hardware Resale, The Nichols Management Group Ltd., Philips Metsch Sweeney Moore, Southern California Reproductive Center/Mark Surrey MD, V3 data/print/mail and WaltersGroup Creative.

— Jill Fonte is Sansum Clinic’s marketing director.