Hundreds support cause to keep breast cancer survivors in the 'Pink'
Published 8:56 am, Thursday, October 9, 2014
By Meg Barone
Everyone was in the pink Wednesday at the 4th annual Pink Aid Luncheon and Fashion Show at Mitchells of Westport, where CBS News correspondent and breast cancer survivor Lara Logan delivered the keynote address and founder Andrew Mitchell-Namdar announced a new initiative and event milestone.
Mitchell-Namdar told the crowd of about 500 people that the non-profit Pink Aid has raised $1 million in its three years. "Your support has allowed so many small miracles," he said.
The funding goes each year to cancer diagnostic and compassionate support services for local women with breast cancer who lack insurance or have inadequate medical coverage. Pink Aid supports programs that provide services including free mammograms, wigs, recovery garments, food cards, transportation to treatment, help covering personal expenses and more. Recipients include Yale Cancer Center, CancerCare of Fairfield County and the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Cancer Center.
He also asked the crowd to help with the new Pink Purse. The hope is to raise $150,000, which will be matched by an anonymous donor.
The new initiative was launched to help breast cancer patients with emergency and immediate needs because many of the granting organizations that receive funding from Pink Aid have limits on the resources they can provide and often can only offer Band-Aid approaches. Some patients struggle to pay rent and utility bills and to put food on their families' tables.
"The thought of these burdens is unimaginable," but unfortunately a reality for many women, said event co-chairwoman Jo Levinson.
Pink Purse came about because of the number of requests for help that Pink Aid received from women in crisis.
People "filled the purse" by making a donation to another new feature this year, the Wall of Compassion. Donors wrote inspirational messages and good wishes on the wall using pens with pink ink.
"I would like to thank all of the incredible women and men involved in Pink Aid for bringing awareness and much needed support to our community," Dr. Heather Trimmer of Norwalk Radiology and Mammography Center wrote in her message.
In her unscripted remarks, Logan shared the fear she faced after her breast cancer diagnosis even though she had spent time reporting from war zones, including in Iraq, and experienced gang rape on an assignment in Egypt. She said the diagnosis put her and her husband into "full panic mode," and left her feeling betrayed by her own body.
"I couldn't find anything to hold on to. There were so many things I didn't know," Logan said. "It's a long road and not a pleasant one ... "but you learn there is a community of people who have been through this and will be a support," Logan said.
She came out on the other side knowing, "I'm not defined by breast cancer. I'm not defined by sexual violence."
Logan called Pink Aid "a spectacular event" that lightens other people's burdens.
More than a dozen breast cancer survivors walked the runway in the Celebration of Life fashion show, many accompanied by a family member or friend, all of whom received a bracelet made by Bella Gollomp, 17, of Westport.
"I saw my mom go through her experience with cancer. We walked in the fashion show a few years back. I wanted to do my part and give these survivors a reminder of their strength and beauty," said Gollomp, whose mother, Elida Gollomp is a co-chairwoman of this year's Pink Aid Luncheon.
Elida Gollomp said the darkness of breast cancer has a light at the end: "It creates a community of strong, warrior women," she said.
The first luncheon was held in October 2011 and featured about a dozen pink chairs created by local designers to include in a silent auction. This year the home decor auction was called "Pink Passion" was expanded to include ottomans, photographs, a head board and pet beds. Jill Kalman of Westport made a bench. Sarah Weiland of Tusk Home & Design in Fairfield made two ottomans.
"I have several friends and family members with breast cancer. I wanted to help and participate in some way," said Dina Spaidal of Fairfield, who created a design with Deb LaBella. They designed a vintage vanity stool using a quadrille fabric.
"I wanted to represent something that shows the beauty inside of all the women who are going through their (breast cancer) journey and I thought the photograph of a beautiful pink flower would do that," said Susan Glick of Westport, who has made pink chairs in the past.
This year's event also featured professional models in a showcase of Michael Kors' fashions from his spring 2015 collection.
For more information or to make a contribution, call 1-844-PINK-AID, email email@example.com or visit www.pinkaid.org.