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The American Cancer Society's Imagination Ball over the weekend surpassed expectations and raised $180,000 to fight cancer.

"Preliminary reports show we exceeded our goal and raised $180,000," said Heidi Berge, who helped publicize the ball.

This year's theme for the Imagination Ball -- Break Through ... Find a Cure -- brought out the largest number of guests in three years.

Guests at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa received the royal treatment, and in return expressed their gratitude by reaching deep into their pockets to find a cure for cancer.

BMO Harris Bank, the presenting sponsor for this year's gala, came well-represented, with wealth director Walter Schacht welcoming guests and applauding their support of the gala that included a silent and live auction with auctioneer Rick Gallo.

Imagination Ball chairs Dick and Debra Shanahan paid tribute to John and Corrie Grado.

John Grado passed away this past year and was also a cancer survivor for many years. Corrie Grado was honored for many years of service to the cancer society.

Corrie Grado was on stage to present this year's Grado Award to Bill and Doreen Dean from Hideaway Beach.

Guest speakers included cancer survivor Larry Baer and Rabbi Fishel Zaklos, caregiver and chaplain to the Naples Police Department.

"Cancer may have started this fight, but we are here to finish it," is the motto of Bill and Karen Young, diamond sponsors for this year's Imagination Ball.

Pick up the Thursday, March 5, print edition of the Sun Times for more stories and photos.

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