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Rush Companies Teams Up With South Sound CARE Foundation to Raise Over $500,000 for South Sound Cancer Patients

by Alena McClain, Marketing Coordinator

October 31, 2017

October 7th marked the Fourth Annual Beer & Bites Event, hosted at the Narrows Marina by Founding Underwriter the Rush Companies. The event benefits the South Sound Cancer Awareness Research Expansion (CARE) Foundation, founded by Dr. Frank Senecal of Northwest Medical Specialties. More than 500 people gathered to raise a record-breaking $500,000 to advance cancer research and to facilitate cutting edge trials here in the South Puget Sound.


A unique relationship developed between Rush company founder Gordon Rush and Senecal 5 years ago. “Frank does amazing work with cancer patients. Effecting people in our community is important to me,” said Rush, “Providing south sound residents with the ability to receive leading edge trials and stay in their home, close to their support system, is huge for people already dealing with a challenging situation.” Over the years, The Rush Companies, a Pierce County developer and contractor, has donated more than $300,000 in underwriting Beer & Bites.

The fundraiser started five years ago based on the vision of the Rush team as a way to engage support for South Sound CARE.  Initially an intimate gathering of 50 people raised in the neighborhood of $40,000. Since then, Beer & Bites has gained momentum thanks to the partnerships of Rush, community leaders, and the local medical community. “The south sound has really embraced Beer & Bites,” said Rush. “We have contractors, physicians, business leaders, friends and neighbors all coming together to generate hope for cancer patients. It is extremely rewarding to see the generosity toward CARE grow year after year.” This year, local businessman Tony Panagiotu and his wife Julie provided a $25,000 lead gift for the Fund-A-Need through the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, inspiring $245,000 in total giving for the paddle raise segment.


“Without great research, we go nowhere in the fight against cancer,” said Senecal. “Our community deserves access to the best treatments. Our patients are living longer and better even when they have exhausted conventional treatments. We need to keep working to find good options,” he added.

Once conventional cancer treatments are no longer effective, clinical trials become the most hopeful option. South Sound CARE coordinates and enrolls eligible patients into clinical trials by partnering with a national network of researchers and physicans, pharmaceutical companies,  and local medical groups. These trials allow patients to stay local while receiving treatment, an important factor for people already dealing with one of life’s most challenging circumstances. Additionally, South Sound CARE works with local researchers to support their efforts to advance trials. Currently, South Sound CARE’s partnerships include CHI Franciscan Health, MultiCare, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Northwest Medical Specialties, and the University of Washington’s Center for Cancer Innovation (CCI).

 While formed around a serious topic, Beer & Bites integrates fun into the fundraising. Tables are served family style with fresh Alaskan halibut and salmon provided by Rush – an avid fisherman – and prepared by the chefs of the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Local band Sounds Like Doloroes capped off the evening this year with live music and dancing. Many guests show up casually comfortable in jeans and button downs, but come prepared to support their community in a black tie fashion.

To view more images of the event, go to