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Unmasque Cancer fundraiser pulls into Union Station Oct. 17

Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles

A masquerade fundraiser benefiting young adult cancer survivors is scheduled to take place Oct. 17 at downtown L.A.'s Union Station. 

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In the run-up to Halloween, a mask-filled soiree is set to unspool at downtown L.A.’s Union Station to benefit young adult cancer survivors.

Scheduled for Oct. 17, we’re told guests can expect “a group of masked individuals [taking] over the concourse for an evening of intrigue, mystery and charity” that involves games of chance, roving magicians and whirls on the dance floor by masked dancers. The evening will culminate in an “unmasquing” hour -- a performance piece in which the aforementioned dancers will doff their masks “revealing who they are, where they have been and the experiences they’ve had [and] exposing how closely all our experiences with cancer are related.”

Tickets to the fundraiser start at $75 (for an additional $25 they’ll throw in the mask) with proceeds going to the SAMFund, a nonprofit that helps young adult survivors of cancer as they recover from the financial effects of cancer treatment through direct financial assistance, and online support and education programs. (Since 2005, the organization has awarded $1.35 million in grants -- $200,000 last year.)

The Boston-based SAMFund usually holds more traditional fundraisers -- think cocktail parties and glittery galas -- the group’s co-founder and Chief Executive Samantha Eisenstein Watson (herself a two-time survivor of cancer as a young adult) told us, but this marks the first time the organization has staged a full-blown masquerade ball.

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The SAMFund is headquartered on the East Coast but serves as a resource for young adult survivors of cancer nationwide -- including here in the Golden State.

“We always have a disproportionately large number of grant applications that come from California,” Watson said, “and therefore also a disproportionately large number of grant recipients.”

Which means the City of Angels is an appropriate place to turn for help sticking a pitchfork in the financial challenges of cancer recovery.

Unmasque Cancer, 8 p.m. Oct. 17 at Fred Harvey restaurant at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda, Los Angeles (cocktail attire required). Additional information, including a link to purchase tickets, can be found at www.unmasquecancer.com.

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