A wave of pink overtook Lee University’s DeVos Recreation Center Thursday afternoon when community members showed up for the fourth annual Volley for a Cure Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon.
Darlia Conn welcomed the gathered guests, who included survivors of breast cancer and those interested in making a difference.
Conn shared how the cancer affected her mother and led to the passing of her aunt and sister-in-law.
“There is no good news there. The good news for them is they are in a great place right now where we are all going one day, but we don’t choose to go in that particular way, and we are doing everything we can in these organizations to fight the scourge of cancer,” Conn said. “I am so glad you are here and engaged in the battle.”
Volley for a Cure committee members Andrea Hudson and Zandra Welch served as emcees of the event.
Welch took the opportunity to update the luncheon guests on fundraising activities completed in recent weeks. She reported more than 8,000 T-shirts have been sold at $5 a piece this year. This means a minimum of $40,000 has been raised through the T-shirt sales alone.
In addition, Flamingo Flockers from Doctors Express have marked more than 50 yards and raised over $3,000.
All of the funds raised go toward the MaryEllen Locher Foundation.
“Volley for a Cure is our largest fundraiser and the money donated here helps us with our scholarship fund,” said Cindy Pare, foundation administrator. “Every year, we will do a special scholarship for a student from the Cleveland area. The rest of the money will go into helping us with our operating expenses and scholarship funds for the other students as well.”
The foundation has provided more than 300 scholarships totaling $547,000 since it was founded in 2002.
Pare said she has attended the luncheon for the past three years.
“The lunch is just a wonderful spirit of camaraderie in the Cleveland community,” Pare said. “To see the women all dressed up in their beautiful pink and to be honored for the strength and the fight they have done and knowing they are here to support our mission to help their children and grandchildren is very heartwarming to us.”
Christian comedian and featured luncheon guest Vonda Skelton spoke on beauty as explained by the Bible.
She reminded luncheon guests to look beyond society’s standards of beauty. According to Skelton, these standards often revolve around being young, blonde, tall and skinny.
“When I look at scripture, there are very specific verses about how to be beautiful,” Skelton said. “In 1 Peter 3:4, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner-self, the unfailing beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
The stories of Mary, Ruth and Sarah were highlighted to give examples of beauty in action.
“If we want to have a pure heart,” Skelton said to the crowd, “if we want to have a beautiful heart, then we need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; submit to the plan God has for your life; obey whatever he tells you to do; and believe he tells us and act on that belief.”
Survivors Linda Humphreys and Deb Sanford said they very much enjoyed the luncheon.
“I try to come and do things that involve breast cancer survivors,” Humphreys, a 13-year-survivor said. “When they started this, they did the advertisement in the paper, and I thought that is something I would want to do.”
Humphreys invited Sanford who is a 21-year survivor.
“It is a lovely event, and of course, it is very near and dear to my heart,” Sanford said. “I think you could never talk enough about [breast cancer]. Even though we have made strides, there is still so much to learn and to know.”
Continued Sanford, “And it is not just women affected, it is men. It is husbands and grandfathers and sons.”
Sanford, who is battling her second bout with cancer, said things have improved since her first round.
“Anytime it is a very terrifying time and it is quite the journey. A lot of things have changed in both medicine and support,” Sanford said. “It was different then, and it is good because it is so much easier this time. I’ve had so much support and so many wonderful friends — they are everywhere and it is wonderful.”
The luncheon is presented by Brenda Lawson & Associates, “to honor women who inspire us.”
Volley for a Cure 2013 wraps up another campaign of fundraising and community awareness tonight with “Paint the Town Pink” activities in Paul Dana Walker Arena on the Lee University campus. A silent auction kicks off the evening at 5 p.m., leading up to the much-anticipated volleyball game between the Lee Lady Flames and Valdosta State University.