Susan G. Komen “On the wings of hope” survivor benefit

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Susan G. Komen for the Cure “On the Wings of Hope” Survivor Benefit.  A night full of inspirational stories, essential fundraising, and a “pinkified” venue of attendees, the benefit successfully highlighted the reality and the positive community surrounding breast cancer awareness.

Kicking off with a reception hour at the Goei Center, a beautiful warehouse inspired venue in downtown Grand Rapids with contemporary wood floors, a Koi pond, and exposed brick design.  The benefit was a true “celebration of life” with music, a silent auction, dinner, guest speakers, pink cocktails and paintings.

The silent auction showcased a number of special goods, notably a pink shoe display tower donated by Wolverine Worldwide.  Their cleverly titled campaign “Finding a Cure: One Step at a Time” was the talk of the reception.  Additionally, a local artist had a canvas set up that survivor attendees could paint a couple strokes to contribute to a finished product.

Two of the most noteworthy aspects of the night were the 2012 Denise Blunk Young Survivor Award recipient, Erin Murray, and the keynote speech by Steve Ford, son of Betty Ford.  The Young Survivor Award began under the pretense of 5 Life Lessons: live life in the now, practice self-love and take care of you, understand that you are responsible for your own joy, live courageously, and make God real to others.

This year’s recipient, Erin Murray, is a true inspiration and pillar of strength.  She was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer at the age of 29, while she was six and a half months pregnant.  Cataloging her journey through her blog, Murray’s recollection of her journey and the gratitude she has for the survivor and co-survivor community, as well as her one year old son she calls her “life-savior,” left not a dry eye in the room.

Keynote speaker, Steve Ford, had the room in fits of laughter and tears while he described his mother and her battle with breast cancer.  As Ford beamed, “[Mom] never acknowledged negativity towards her experience with the disease, only that she married the right man, had wonderful friends and family, and the most amazing support system available: women all over the United States.”

Betty Ford is, and should be, credited for changing the face of the breast cancer in America.  In the 70’s, it was frowned upon to even say the world “breast” in public and Betty vowed to erase that shame and welcome the awareness of breast cancer.  Ever humbled, Steve Ford ends by reiterating, “if Mom were here tonight, she’d tell you she was just an ordinary woman stuck in an extraordinary time.”

The glow of love, strength, support, and awareness was impossible to ignore throughout the benefit.  “On the Wings of Hope” is a true dedication to the plight and the importance of our community support system.  Find more information on Susan G. Komen West Michigan here.

How does your community honor its breast cancer survivors and co-survivors?

Photo credit: StellaFly

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