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Thu, Feb. 27

Friends unite to benefit cancer victim, family

The beloved Christmas carol, "Joy to the World," performed in an upbeat "Gurley Girls style" set the mood of the day at a benefit Saturday to help Dina Mountcastle, who is suffering from breast cancer, and her family.

Women of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and other members of American Lutheran Church gathered Saturday during a fundraising Christmas party that organizers wanted to be uplifting and festive. Friends and families with their children gathered for not only music of the season played and sung by the Gurley Girls ensemble, but also for cookies that kids and adults alike munched on, beverages and a silent auction offering a wide array of temptations for bidders.

"Dina is a dear, dear friend," said Lani Pierie. "It's so nice to see everyone come together for her and her family," which includes her husband, P.J., and two young daughters.

Church member Cindy Craig called the occasion "worldly awesome. Dina is an amazing Christian."

Retired American Lutheran Pastor Dan Storvick explained the Christian philosophy about such events as Saturday's.

"Christians are called to celebrate life and love and to grieve when it is taken from us. We grieve as those who have no hope, and our hope is the Lord. This is Christians at their best. Jesus said, 'Love one another as I have loved you' and this is what these people are doing."

"I think this is wonderful, the community coming together. Dina is a very special lady," Kathy Lilley said. Added Cheryl Minnick, "It's festive. The music is beautiful."

Ered Matthew, who designed the set for "Annie," a play that Prescott Center for the Arts recently staged, donated a framed "working design" of the windows in Miss Hannigan's orphanage to the silent auction. Mountcastle played the mean orphanage matron not long before her illness required hospice care.

"It's nice to see the community come together," Matthew said. During the production of "Annie," Matthew said he didn't have the opportunity to see much of Mountcastle.

Friends describe her as caring and gentle in real life, so "getting in Annie's face" in the play was a challenge for her, she said at the time.

Nevertheless, her characteristic kindness showed itself, despite the ornery, coniving person she played.

"You could see the way she treated other people and by the honesty of her performance -you can't help but let your own personality and honesty come through," Matthew said.

Throughout her battle with cancer, Mountcastle has written her thoughts and feelings on her blog.

Liana Klein has never met Mountcastle but has read that blog. "I wanted to support her," she said at the fundraiser Saturday. "I have two little girls of my own. It's fun. I've never been to anything like this before."

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