Dorothy Hamill wins gold at Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group’s Celebration of Life Luncheon (photos) | VailDaily.com

Dorothy Hamill wins gold at Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group’s Celebration of Life Luncheon (photos)

Carolyn Pope
High Altitude Society

If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, then there's a group in town that has your back — and your breasts.

Brenda Himelfarb and Patti Weinstein founded the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group 24 years ago with a simple mission: to help those in Eagle County, both women and men (breast cancer also effects males) who have been diagnosed with the disease. The organization provides financial help for those going through treatment, in emergency situations and right off the bat with a check for $500 for "a day to play."

Each patient also receives a "shine on" bag full of goodies, and the children of patients receive $50 to spoil themselves with a little fun. Chef Weston Schroeder, a local caterer, delivers meals two nights a week for up to two weeks since something as simple as preparing meals for the family can be stressful.

The Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group has been a big contributor to local medical facilities that treat breast cancer, including $75,000 to the Sonnenalp Breast Diagnostic Imaging Center within the Shaw Regional Cancer Center and another $50,000 to Jack's Place, a facility adjacent to the cancer center that provides patient accommodations to those who travel a long distance for treatment. The Shaw Center also received $50,000 for the purchase of a PET Scanner and another $50,000 toward the purchase of a stereotactic table for the Shaw Center's radiation department.

All of the money raised by Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group stays in Eagle County.

The Gap Fund provides $50,000 to the Breast Center for those who need additional diagnostic tests and assistance with the gap payment due to their deductible or insurance coverage.

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"The Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group continues to support our center and patients by providing shine on bags and capital equipment," said Colleen Berga, of the Sonnenalp Breast Center. "We are honored to have such a great group to support our center and our community."

'Life Is Like Skating'

Dorothy Hamill, the renowned ice skater, was the speaker at the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group's annual Celebration of Life Luncheon at the Marriott in Lionshead Village. The event was sponsored in part by Vail Health and Silver Sponsor Mikki Futernick. Although she claimed not to be a speaker, her approachable attitude and warm style kept the audience intrigued. Hamill was diagnosed with stage 2 estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer in 2008.

"When I got that news, I thought it was a death sentence," she said. "I was just devastated."

She eased the seriousness of the topic by joking about one of her greatest fears, losing her hair. The audience laughed along with that statement, understanding that, second in celebrity to her skating ability was her trademark "wedge" haircut.

She is now cancer free. She shared her motto of the experience: "Life is like skating. You fall down. Sometimes it's a body slam. You get up. You keep moving."

For more information on the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group, visit http://www.vbcag.org.

Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group

The Celebration of Life Luncheon and silent auction began in July of 1994 and is the group’s signature event, The fundraising efforts of the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group are to help residents in Eagle County who are in need of financial assistance while going through breast cancer treatment. For more information, visit http://www.vbcag.org.