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News Story
Updated: 02/08/2018 08:30:03AM

A fun and fabulous

fundraiser for brain tumors

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Niki Mackey and Celia Paige organized a fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Society. The event included a catered buffet, vendors, a fashion show and a women's speaker.


The Circle Theatre was filled with people supporting brain tumor research. The fundraiser was organized by Celia Paige and Niki Mackey. Mackey was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was only 24 years old, and the mother-daughter duo wanted to raise money for research.


Sonali Hutson gave an inspiring talk about overcoming difficulties and finding true freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ.


Chantel Gilmore, owner of Newly Inspired You and a vendor at the fundraiser, sold LuLaRoe clothes for women and teens.


Author Texas Stready showcased her book Deep in the Heart of Texas. The autobiography detailed her 28-year drug addiction and how she found freedom.


Wanda Tooks served as the emcee for the brain tumor fundraiser. She wore a purple dress to represent the fight against cancer.


Carole Cook, financial advisor at Edward Jones, offered women help with improving their finances. The banquet was a fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Society, but it also focused on empowering women to live to their fullest potential. This included looking beautiful and reaching for person and financial dreams.


Tommy Pratt and Samuel McFarlane from Top Choice Catering served a delicious buffet at the fundraiser. They piled the attendees plates high with mouth-watering food that included chicken, fish, string beans, macaroni and cheese, salad, rice and dinner rolls.


Daisy Butts offered beauty supplies from the Beautique in Sebring, a women's store that sells clothes, wigs and cosmetics.


Vern Hawkins, a vendor at the fundraiser, sold framed art and jewelry.


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When Niki Mackey was 24 years old and a new mother of a 3-month-old baby, she was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. She underwent two major surgeries, and a shunt was placed in her head. As a result of the surgical incisions, her hair had to be shaved. She began a blog to help others cope with the disease and to discuss ways to deal with hair loss. As she began making wigs for other women with medical hair loss, she began her journey of helping others deal with similar medical difficulties. Her mom, Celia Paige, joined her on the journey of turning her tragedy into triumph and began holding annual fundraisers for the National Brain Tumor Society.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the mother-daughter duo held their annual fundraiser at the Circle Theatre, moving the event there to accommodate the growing crowd. The event raised money for brain tumor research, created awareness of the condition and served as a way to empower women to live their lives to the fullest. Although Mackey suffers from a brain tumor, none of the funds will go directly to her. Instead the money raised is given directly to the National Brain Tumor Society for research.

The program began with a motivating poem by Regina Nicolois that encouraged participants to pursue their goals and choose a new direction for their lives instead of defaulting on their dreams. Afterwards, women of different ages paraded onstage in beautiful gowns donated for the evening by Beautique, a local fashion store. Before the fashion show continued, participants feasted on a delicious catered buffet from Top Choice Catering; fish, chicken, string beans, peas, rice, salad, macaroni and cheese, and dinner rolls provided a visual and culinary delight for the attendees.

The theme for the night was “removing the mask” and featured a fashion show and women’s speaker, Sonali Hutson, a dynamic and engaging speaker who believes that women can rise up and recover from any difficult situation. Her focal verses are Psalm 121:1-2 which say, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Hutson commented, “If you can look up, you can get up!”

The beautifully decorated event sought to inspire women who had undergone difficult situations, and it was a huge success. Tina Knight, a participant, said, “It’s a great event worth promoting. Our lives have been touched by people with illnesses. It’s great when the community comes together and supports one another.” Gwen Shannon agreed with Knight and stated, “It was a very elegant evening. The models were wonderful, and dinner was wonderful. I loved all the colors in the fashion show.”

Participants were encouraged to make donation directly to the National Brain Tumor Society. Donations will fund research for nearly 700,000 people in the United States who are living with a brain tumor. According to, “there have only been four FDA approved drugs and one device to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years.”

More research is needed to provide a cure, and Paige and Mackay are dedicated to continuing their fabulous annual fundraisers to raise money for research.