Eleven years later, the Emerald Coast Cattle Barons' Ball stands strong.
On Nov. 30, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort will host the region's annual western-themed shin dig, bringing together food, fun and drinks to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
"We transform the 14,000, 15,000 square feet at Lakeside Center into (the) Wild West," said Kay Phelan, who has chaired the event for the past five years. "There's hay and there's a neat western theme to the whole thing, so it's not only a casual fun evening that you don't need drink tickets for ... it's a really fun decor too."
The night starts at 6 p.m. and will include performances from the classic country music band The Modern Eldorados, along with live and silent auctions — prizes include a guitar signed by Keith Urban.
Phelan said more than 400 people normally attend the event, and that Cattle Barons' Balls, as a collective, are the largest single-night fundraisers in the nation.
Guests are able to buy 10-person tables with different levels of sponsorships — Rancher for $2,500 or Baron for $5,000 — along with individual tickets for $175.
More expensive tables come with better "perks," according to Phelan, and are of a limited and quickly running out supply.
"All the drinks are complimentary, as well as the food and so forth, so you get a lot for the cost of the ticket to go there, and additional monies are raised during the course of the evening," Phelan said, who added a wide variety of local restaurants cater the event and there's also a full bar.
Cancer is a topic near and dear to Phelan, whose son Brad passed away from pancreatic cancer 11 years ago. After visiting a Cattle Barons' Ball the year following his death, she decided to devote her time to helping raise money for those going through a similar struggle.
"When all this happened with my son, I really put a lot of effort toward helping raise money for the fight against cancer," she said.
Apart from her efforts with the annual fundraiser, she's works in public relations for Destin Commons, LuLu's Destin and the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center.
"Everybody is impacted by cancer in some way," Phelan said. "I went to my first Cattle Barons' Ball about six weeks after I lost my son, and that's where I discovered this world of cancer and maybe there was something I could do to help make a difference."