This year's Nite of Hope explores the world of espionage and conspiracy.
Well . not literally. However, in the spirit of James Bond 007, the 15th annual Nite of Hope, dubbed Nite at Casino Royale, will transform the River Rock Casino Resort's theatre into a scene out of one of the popular spy thriller's movies.
"It's kind of fun . we are playing off the Bond theme," said Shelley Leonhardt, chair of the Nite of Hope Richmond. "Guests are invited to come wearing their James Bond finery for our big, glittery casino night.
"We will even have a Bond themed video to introduce our 50/50 guys."
Leonhardt went on to say that although the committee realizes breast cancer is a serious issue, for one night, Nite of Hope organizers want to "make everyone feel a little lighter and enjoy a wonderful evening."
"More than anything, we realize that all of us have been touched by breast cancer in one way or another, and this is one night where you can go, help the cause and help researchers try to make a difference in people's lives," she said.
This year's guest speaker and performer is Juno award-winner R&B chanteuse Jully Black. Dubbed Canada's queen of R&B, Black said she "is honoured to take part in such an important cause." And like many women, she has been personally touched by breast cancer.
"When I was 27, I noticed a lump on my breast and I was sent for a mammogram," said Black, when the News reached her in Toronto. "When I went to the clinic, they told me I was too young to have breast cancer and they turned me away."
Luckily, the lump turned out to be benign, but it has taught the singer that early detection is key to saving lives.
"For three years, I was tested every six months," she said.
Since then, Black often performs at fundraisers all across the country benefiting breast cancer research.
The multi-talented Black - singer/songwriter/performer - has collaborated and written songs for many artists including Destiny's Child, Sean Paul and Choclair. The sultry singer has also shared the stage with many stars, including Celine Dion, Kayne West, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. In addition, she has performed for the Queen and headlined the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The soulful songster describes her music as a "jambalaya of genres."
"There's a hint of Tina Turner and Phil Collins," she quipped.
Over the years, Black has been compared to American singer/songwriters Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill.
"The highest honour for me is when I was compared to Tina Turner," she added.
At Nite of Hope, Black said each guest will receive her 11-track compilation CD called Dropping (8)ight.
"This is an exclusive CD that you can't order and only people at the show will receive," said Black. "On the CD, I have a track that I collaborated with an incredibly talented young rapper called Nas.
"He gave me a nugget of wisdom 'remember why you got into the music and stay true to that'."
The popular singer, whose roots hail from Jamaica, will be joined on stage with her drummer and DJ.
"My performance will be really interactive, border lining on athletic with lots of energy," she said with a laugh. "I'm really looking forward to coming back to Vancouver and rocking the night.
"The audience should be ready to dance." Meanwhile, one of the most touching and enduring moments of the elegant gala is the Rose Ceremony in which breast cancer survivors or those still fighting the disease are invited on stage to receive a rose.
"It is an important part of the evening where we honour those we have lost and for those who are battling the disease or newly diagnosed," said Leonhardt.
"The Rose Ceremony really shows how many of us have been touched by breast cancer . although it's tough on many who take part in it, it's also heartwarming. It's the least we can do."
Another highlight of the night is the live auction, where guests outbid each other in an exciting show of support for the cause.
"Howard Blank (vice president of media and entertainment for the Great Canadian Casinos), has once again agreed to be our auctioneer for the night," she said. "Howard gets the crowd going and often adds items to get people to bid even more money."
(More Nite of Hope coverage on pages 12 and 13)