Gilda’s Club South Jersey provides those affected by cancer with free social, emotional and education support.

“And free is expensive,” club CEO Michelle Chalmers said in explaining why events such as the Gilda Rocks On fundraiser held Thursday night are critical to the club’s survival. “This is why we do this.”

The event at The Hard Rock Cafe raised more than $200,000, according to club board member Phyllis Lacca.

“That’s before we even opened the doors tonight,” Lacca said. “We’re going to have 300 to 400 some people attend at $200 a ticket. We’re going to have raised over a quarter million dollars.”

Chalmers said that the club needs to raise $800,000 a year. “Because we provide free services to anyone in need that’s touched by cancer, so in order to raise the funds we have to have events such as this, to make our budget and keep the doors open.”

The event featured a performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dion DiMucci. Attendees gathered for photos on a red carpet before heading inside. Radio personality Jerry Blavat emceed the event, telling stories and giving the crowd some context to Dion’s career. Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand impersonators from Atlantic City Legends in Concert were also on hand for entertainment.

Dion took the stage playing some of his early rock n’ roll hits.

Gilda Rocks On was hosted by Hard Rock International Chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen and his wife, Gilda's Club South Jersey board member Isabel Allen.

Lacca is good friends with the Allens and said Isabel really helped to drive the event.

“When I brought Isabel onto the board she said, ‘We’re going to do an event at Hard Rock, and we’re going to surpass your $70,000 goal. We’re going to raise $100,000.’ She did that last year,” Lacca said. “The bar keeps getting raised higher.”

Isabel Allen said she was very excited to see Dion play, but that she has a specific goal for a coming year’s entertainment.

“My real big vision is to have Bruce at an event,” she said. “We had Stevie (Van Zandt) last year, and that was great, we love Stevie, but one of these days, I’m going to have Bruce Springsteen play an event.”

Contact David Simpson:

609-272-7204