Moffitt’s First Virtual Groundbreaking Celebration Has Success

By Jonesa Rodriguez - October 16, 2020

A pandemic may have caused the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation to cancel its annual Magnolia Ball, but it didn’t stop the team from bringing the elegance. The Foundation presented its first Virtual Groundbreaking Celebration on Sept. 25. The event, hosted by Bay News 9 anchor Rick Elmhorst, gave viewers the feeling of the Magnolia Ball, but in a virtual space.

During the virtual celebration, donors met Caleb Morris, a professional violinist and cancer survivor, who at the age of 31 was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a rare blood cancer. Morris not only shared his story but serenaded viewers with a live performance, which also served as his thank you to Moffitt for saving his life and to those who have donated to cancer research.

Since 1994, the Magnolia Ball, the cancer center’s signature event, has raised millions for Moffitt’s cancer-fighting efforts to help patients like Morris, and this year’s virtual event was no different.

The celebration raised over a million dollars thanks in large to generous supporters like Wayne and Fonda Huizenga, the Couch Family Foundation, the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation, the Lynch Family and Bristol Myers Squibb.

“We are so grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from our corporate and community partners,” said Maria Muller, president of the Moffitt Foundation. “Their generous contributions allow us to fund lifesaving research efforts that benefit patients like Caleb Morris.”

Although guests missed out on the in-person ball experience of cocktail hour, dinner and dancing, supporters were still able to participate in the silent auction, get a sneak peek of Moffitt’s new hospital and hear from inspiring speakers. 

“While we were unable to be together in-person for this year’s Magnolia Ball, we were so pleased for this opportunity to come together virtually with our supporters,” Muller said. “Plans are already underway for the 2021 Magnolia Ball, which we hope will give us the chance to gather together later next year.”

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in live on Sept. 25, you can watch the broadcast here.

 To learn more about the Moffitt Foundation or to donate visit

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