ATLANTIC CITY — Tara Miller's twin sister Lauren doesn't hesitate when asked what Tara would be doing now if she were alive. She'd be focused on helping patients dealing with melanoma, the disease that ended her life, and working tirelessly to find a cure.

Those goals have taken huge steps forward thanks to a foundation that Tara, a Longport native, was able to get off the ground before her death in late 2014.

Tara's motto in life was to find a silver lining in everything and "make the best of it," and that phrase has become the namesake of a fundraiser about to embark on its fifth year of promoting research and good treatment options.

The "Make the Best of It Bash" on Friday, June 29, at the Tropicana in Atlantic City looks to build on an 850-guest list and $650,000 raised in 2017, bringing to $2.4 million the cumulative total the Tara Miller Melanoma Foundation has donated from the annual event.

"It's really just a big cocktail party in Atlantic City, because her biggest thing was, no matter what's going on, make sure you can still have fun and find a reason to smile," Lauren Miller said.

Tara died about six months after speaking at the first Bash, but made it clear she wanted it to continue in future years. There's been a lot added since then, like an auction that offers not only luxury items, jewelry, and sports memorabilia, but also unique experiences like dinners with athletes and show tickets.

Lauren said that portion of the event in particular honors Tara's personality; she wore a shirt that read "I'd rather be shopping" to her first treatment.

The Miller family funds all event- and foundation-related costs so that every single dollar donated goes directly to melanoma research and is completely tax-deductible.

And the best part, Lauren said, is that Tara's vision truly has made the best of it; it has made a difference.

"She would be incredibly proud of where her foundation has come, and we actually have heard from a couple patients that are now on treatments, that they have a chance to fight this disease because of the research that Tara's foundation has funded," she said.

Check out more about the Tara Miller Melanoma Foundation and the Make the Best of It Bash at taramillerfoundation.org.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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