Mary Folletti Cruise’s medical fundraiser came with pulsing club music, sweeping colored lights and plenty of glitz.
Folletti Cruise, an employee of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is battling breast cancer and was the beneficiary of the Besties for Breasties drag show fundraiser Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.
“It’s amazing,” Folletti Cruise said shortly before the show. “The community has been so amazing for us. And Tlingit & Haida. This is the second fundraiser they’ve had for us.”
Folletti Cruise was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer shortly after the birth of her 11-month-old son, Carver.
“It could have been an earlier stage, but medical professionals think when you’re 35 and pregnant you can’t have cancer,” Folletti Cruise said.
While the specific details of Folletti Cruise’s fundraiser were unique, the spirit and goal of the event was the same as any fundraiser: Friends, family and coworkers pitching in to help defray medical costs for someone they hold dear.
“We wanted to come together and support her,” said drag queen Gigi Monroe in between performances. “She said, ‘You know what I want? A big drag show and dance party for all of my friends.”
Sarah Dybdahl, co-organizer of the event and Folletti Cruise’s supervisor at work, said the goal was for an event representative of Mary and her family.
Folletti Cruise’s wife, Roz, 4-year-old daughter, Enza, and Carver were all in attendance and ready to dole out dollar bills to drag queens and kings, who kept a crowd laughing and clapping.
Folletti Cruise’s close friendship with artist and drag queen Ricky Tagaban was also a major reason Besties for Breasties came to be, and Folletti Cruise said Tagaban has been a major support throughout her battle with cancer.
“Ricky has been to 90 percent of my infusions,” Folletti Cruise said.
Tlingit and Haida helped sponsor the event, too. Richard Peterson, Tlingit and Haida president, said it was an easy decision to support the atypical fundraiser.
“I didn’t have any hesitation whatsoever,” Peterson said. “When something happens to one of our staff, we pull them up and be supportive.”
The fundraiser’s goal of $5,000 was to just generally defray medical costs, Folletti Cruise said, but she added it will help with some specific, significant costs on the horizon, too.
“It’s helping us get by with bills, but we’ve got two trips coming up in October and November,” Folletti Cruise said. “I’ll be going to Seattle for treatment: Pre-op and then surgery.”