EDITOR'S NOTE: Competition and award winners, as well as gross funds raised were added to this story on June 3

BENNINGTON -- The Cancer Center Community Crusaders held its inaugural Cupcake Crusade and Community Remembrance Day on Saturday to raise money for the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center and for families battling cancer.

Sixteen crews ranging from just a few to 46 people set up booths and tents to collect donations and display cupcakes for a food-judging competition on the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center campus. Those crews worked for the past several months to raise money for the crusader's fund.

After event expenses, the crusaders raised gross funds of roughly $32,000.

Tom Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, and many others light candles for the Community Remembrance ceremony Saturday at
Tom Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, and many others light candles for the Community Remembrance ceremony Saturday at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com )
Donations collected until June 15 will count toward this year's funds. The crusaders are still accepting donations, which can be made out to the cancer crusaders and mailed to the SVHC Foundation, 100 Hospital Drive, Bennington, VT 05201.

Each crew had to bring in full-sized cupcakes for the judges and mini cupcakes that those attending the event could choose with tickets they purchased.

Attendees donated $5 for a chance to sample 10 mini-cupcakes of their choosing. Each cupcake had to feature one unique ingredient.

The judges choice award for cupcake competitors went to the "Bear Construction" crew, and the crowd favorite was awarded to "Jophiel's Crew."

"Gails Gang" won awards for having the most crew members and raising the most money. "Lou's Angels" won the team spirit award and "Cancer Crushers" won the best-decorated booth award.

The crusaders used part of the funds raised to put on a dunking booth, basket bingo, a slide, bouncy house and slide. Beth Dillard, event organizer and SVMC foundation director of operations, said the costs were minimal. Music, entertainment, food vendors and others volunteered to help out with the event. E-Z Way Rental Center volunteered tables and tents to the event.

The 2014 winner of the crowd favorite cupcake celebrates her win in Saturday evening during the Cupcake Crusade event held at SVMC in Bennington.
The 2014 winner of the crowd favorite cupcake celebrates her win in Saturday evening during the Cupcake Crusade event held at SVMC in Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)

The Crusaders committee met several times to come up with what the inaugural event would be centered on, but Dillard said everyone ultimately decided on baking cupcakes because it would lead up to a culminating moment. "It's easy to understand, it's simple and everybody loves cupcakes It gave crews a chance to come up with a theme and work around that theme, and people are going to show up for cupcakes."

Since the Crusaders' inception last fall, the crews started selling paper doves on white card stock for $5 to be displayed at the event, and each crew asked the committee for hundreds of them according to Dillard. Collectively between the crews, the crusaders were able to sell 1,500 doves, each in the name of a cancer survivor or in the name of a loved one who has lost the battle.

Tom Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Heath Care, and members of the Community Crusaders, celebrate on Saturday evening at Southwestern
Tom Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Heath Care, and members of the Community Crusaders, celebrate on Saturday evening at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com )

The Wild Country Cloggers were one of the entertainers on hand Saturday, and also were one of the crews.

The Cloggers donated their platform for entertainment and contributed time to raise money for the Crusaders among their 16-member crew.

Cloggers director John Morton said they raised a couple hundred dollars since they started by holding a pizza party, bottle drive and by accepting donations at their Mayfest performance.

"We tried. Some of these other crews have raised thousands of dollars, but we were trying to be charitable and raise as much as we could," he said.

The event on Saturday closed with a remembrance candle-lighting ceremony at dusk, led by the family of former teacher, committee member, mother, and grandmother Gail Harwood, who died in January at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg