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Brothers Gerald and Fred Donovan have made the decision not to continue the annual Celebration of Life Gala, a fundraiser started 30 years ago by the brothers to raise money for cancer research.

“After 30 years, we decided that we had to kind of just end it on a high note,” said Gerald Donovan. “It was a wonderful experience … but sadly, some things have to come to an end.”

The first fundraiser was held in 1982, Donovan said, in honor of their father, who died of cancer. Donovan said his father never wanted public recognition so the gala was never named after him, but “Freddy and I knew why we were doing it.” The event was always held at the Chesapeake Bay Resort and Spa and the Rod ‘N’ Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach, which Donovan owned, and grew more successful each year. Since the start of the event, Donovan said more than $4 million has been raised for cancer research.

“It’s been great fun and so rewarding,” Donovan said. “We’re just thrilled to have been able to do it all these years.”

Donovan said he appreciates anyone who has ever worked for, volunteered for, donated to or attended the gala, as it would not have been as successful were it not for them.

“It took a lot of people to come together and that’s what made it so successful,” Donovan said. “We’re going to miss it, but it’s time to move on.”

Donovan said they are going to continue to support the American Cancer Society in hopes of finding a cure, but they’re just going to do it in a different way. He said there are “many wonderful … charitable entities to support” in Calvert County that they will also try to support as much as they can, but the American Cancer Society holds a special place in their hearts.

Donovan said he and his brother are happy about what they’ve been able to do for cancer research and at the same time, they’re leaving on “happy terms.” Donovan said as the years progressed, the fundraiser became harder and harder to put together and he and his brother are looking forward to enjoying “a little bit of life away from work” now.

“It’s been a wonderful experience and we’re very proud of what all of us together have accomplished,” Donovan said.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com