PITTSBURG — The efforts of the Mount Carmel Foundation to raise $400,000 to help Via Christi Hospital bring the latest in 3D mammography technology to Southeast Kansas have taken big strides in recent days.

The campaign is 84 percent of the way with approximately $337,000 raised or pledged toward the $400,000 goal, according to Joan Brown, president of the foundation. The foundation is about $63,000 short of the objective.

Brown is optimistic the goal will be reached and that breast cancer detection technology in the Pittsburg area will be vastly improved in coming months.

"Basically, prevention is the best treatment and the 3D mammography technology is the best way to detect breast cancer," Brown said.

Johnna Norton, executive director of the Mount Carmel Foundation, said the latest total includes about $80,000 raised from this past Saturday's 32nd Annual Gala held at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium. It also includes a commitment of $30,000 from the Via Christi Hospital Auxiliary, Norton said.

The auxiliary is to officially present the group's $30,000 contribution to the effort in a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Susan Barrett, director of volunteer services for Via Christi Hospital, on Wednesday said the auxiliary donation to the foundation is just part of the group's support.

"The auxiliary will give a check for $50,000 to the hospital on Friday," Barrett said. "They are giving $30,000 to the Mount Carmel Foundation for the 3D mammography."

Norton said final figures from Saturday's fundraising gala are not available — but when the final tally is done she expects it to top $80,000.

"We are still pulling together some figures," Norton said Wednesday afternoon. The event drew about 300 guests and was supported by 22 underwriters.

The silent and live auctions held at the event helped nudge that total considerably higher. Norton said 82 live auction items went home to the highest bidder while bidding action during the live auction for five items was hot and heavy.

"We raised over $80,000 with the exact figure still being calculated," she said. "But we expect we will be over last year's $82,000 amount when we announce a final figure."

The foundation also raised $10,000 during a fund-a-need drive specifically for the 3D mammography campaign that will be matched, Norton said. Last fall foundation officials announced an anonymous donor had pledged to match up to $150,000 if that sum was raised by Feb. 1.

"We have reached our matching goal of $150,000 so all total we have just over $337,000 raised of our $400,000 goal," she said. "That being said, we still have money to raise so we are continuing to raise as much as possible by Feb. 1 so that we can exceed our match goal and get closer to our overall goal."

People interested in contributing may contact the foundation office at 620-235-3512 or email Norton at johnna.norton@viachristi.org.

"That would be a great success to show our anonymous matching donor," Norton said. "With generous donors in the last few days we could get to our final goal."

She said the foundation board hopes to conclude the fundraising by February so the 3D mammography equipment can be ordered and in place by summer to serve Southeast Kansas patients.

— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at melswick@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.