Breast cancer group aims to raise awareness, funds
One in eight American women will battle breast cancer. That’s one diagnosis every three minutes, an American Cancer Society study reports. The Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group strives to remind women in the Vail Valley they are not immune to this statistic.To further their cause, the nine-member grassroots group will hold its 10th Anniversary Celebration of Life luncheon Wednesday, featuring guest speaker Dr. Stephen R. Jones and an announcement of a major financial commitment from the group. “We generally raise anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 with this luncheon – it’s our signature fund-raising event,” says Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group board member and spokeswoman Kristin Kenney Williams. “We have tremendous support in this community faithfully giving to us. Each year it grows. The attraction is that the money stays here in Eagle County.”The group has raised about $350,000 since it was co-founded by Vail resident and breast cancer survivor Brenda Himelfarb and Eagle resident and Roxy Boutique owner Patti Weinstein in 1993. All of the money has gone to help local women fight breast cancer. “We work very closely with the hospital. They give us the names of women with breast cancer, and we automatically send them a check for $500. We call it, ‘Day to Play,'” Williams says. “We firmly believe that treating the emotional side is just as important as the medicinal side. Some women apply it to treatment, but some put it toward a trip or pamper themselves. It’s validating and gives them permission to be good to themselves.”‘Day to Play’ funds have gone to 115 women, and the group has also provided financial assistance to 20 women without health insurance or needing to supplement for treatments that cost more than their insurance provides. In addition, the group has donated to a local breast cancer gene research project at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards and collaborates with the center on an educational outreach program in the Hispanic community.The event at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa begins with a silent auction and champagne reception, followed by the luncheon and Dr. Stephen Jones’ presentation.Dr. Jones’ talk will include new breast cancer treatment findings recently highlighted in the New England Journal of Medicine. Jones, a Vail Valley resident, is director of Breast Cancer Research at the Baylor-Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas and a partner in Texas Oncology since 1985.Former first lady Betty Ford is invited every year, and has attended several times. Her daughter, Susan Ford Bayles spoke at a previous luncheon. “We look to Mrs. Ford as a role model for raising awareness on a national level at a time when there was none,” Williams says.In 1973, Mrs. Ford broke a tradition of silence when she announced she had been treated for breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy.”Our goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer and to someday, hopefully find a cure,” Williams says. “During the last 10 years I’ve had friends, acquaintances and my mother battle breast cancer, so the cause became that much more personal to me.”Good causeWhat: Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group’s 10th Anniversary Celebration of Life Luncheon When: 11:30 a.m., WednesdayWhere: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and SpaMore information: For more information or to inquire about tickets, call 949-6755.