Racing, walking and speaking out for a cure

Though the battle against breast cancer is waged every day of the year, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this October has been an excellent one in WAG country, with two- and four-legged creatures joining in on the fundraising efforts. We have three reports – from the Breast Cancer Alliance’s annual luncheon and fashion show in Greenwich, the Houlihan Lawrence walk in Purchase and the “Racing for a Cure” event at Yonkers Raceway:

Breast Cancer Alliance

“Thank you for sharing our vision” the tag on the pink reflective sunglasses said. For 20 years, thousands of women – and more than a few good men – have been sharing the vision of the Breast Cancer Alliance, notably at the annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich Thursday, Oct.22. Twenty years – and more than $20 million awarded in grants. (This year, the nonprofit plans to award a record $2 million in grants.)

“You are my inspiration,” Anne Thompson, NBC’s chief environmental affairs correspondent, told the BCA leadership. “You lift us up when we’re down.”

This was Thompson’s second turn as keynote speaker. (She addressed attendees in 2008.) Pinch-hitting for her good friend and NBC colleague Andrea Mitchell – who had to cover Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on Capitol Hill and spoke of her disappointment in missing the event via video –Thompson chronicled her own battle with Stage 3 breast cancer with humor and hope. Told by an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering that it was fate that she should live in the neighborhood of the cancer treatment center, Thompson shot back, “No, fate is George Clooney and two airline tickets to Rome. That didn’t happen either.”

The resulting laughter came amid sobering news – new, controversial guidelines that have upped the recommended age of a first mammogram to 45. “If you’re a woman, you’re at risk for breast cancer,” Thompson told the throng of 900 strong, many of whom nodded in assent. And indeed, during the moving Survivors’ Fashion Show – presented by lead sponsor Richards, celebrating 10 years with the event – the big screens flashed bios that told of women being diagnosed at 32, 38 and 39.

Having successfully battled breast cancer, Thompson said the disease brought two gifts, “that of listening to your body and the gift of time,” with its corresponding impatience with nonsense.

“Life’s BS,” she said, “has no place in my life.”

For more visit breastcanceralliance.org and for more photos from the luncheon and fashion show, look for WAG’s December “Shining Passion” issue. – Georgette Gouveia

Houlihan Lawrence

The real estate firm raised $88,146 in the fight against breast cancer through its 16th year participating in the American Cancer Society’s annual “Westchester Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk. The corporate sponsorship, coupled with $68,753 in fundraising, made the combined amount the largest single donation for any 2015 sponsor.

More than 100 of the firm’s agents turned out to show their support at the event, which took place the brisk morning of Sunday, Oct. 18 at Manhattanville College. Of the more than one dozen Houlihan Lawrence teams that participated, the highest contribution came from the Bedford office ($16,367) followed by the firm’s Rye office team ($13,805), led by Marianna Amato.

“Cancer research is an important and very personal cause to Houlihan Lawrence,” said Debra Dalton, senior vice president of Houlihan Lawrence. “Many of our colleagues or their family members are survivors, and others are actively battling the disease in some form. It’s wonderful to see the entire company rally together, support each other and help move us closer to a cure.”

It was the company’s best fundraising year on record for the event. Houlihan Lawrence also supported breast cancer walks for two local foundations this month – Support Connection of Northern Westchester (30th year of sponsorship) and Miles of Hope in Dutchess County (10th year of sponsorship).

According to the American Cancer Society, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walks represent the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting nearly 300 communities with a shared determination to finish the fight.

Yonkers Raceway

The trotter Bloomfieldcan’tifly was definitely in the pink in the spirit of Yonkers Raceway’s  ”Racing for a Cure”  night Saturday, Oct. 24, as the horsemen did their part for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Trainer Monica Banca, co-owner of Bloomfield, spearheaded the effort with Kristen Bartlett, the wife of leading driver Jason Bartlett. Banca had this equine lady dressed in pink – from head to hooves – to promote the fundraising effort at Empire City Casino’s half-mile oval.

“Both Monica and I have had relatives and close friends diagnosed with breast cancer, so it’s a personal mission for us,” Kristen Bartlett said. “Anything we can do to help is worth it. The support from our horse people has been tremendous and we hope Yonkers Raceway’s fans can also assist us.”

Yonkers’ trainers and drivers were joined by members and business leaders in the harness industry in an event held with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The North American Amateur Drivers Association had already pledged $3,000 and presented a check that night.

All the drivers carried pink whips, courtesy of Karin Karlsson of Divine Equine, while pink blankets for the victors were donated by standardbred-associated benefactors.

First prize was a “Gorilla” sulky, donated by Chad Foulk. Second and third place winners took home (or to the barn) a complete Walsh harness set, donated by Barbara Boese.

For more, visit nbcf.org. – edited by Georgette Gouveia

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