South Charlotte Weekly –
About 180 pink-clad women came to Ballantyne Country Club on Tuesday, Sept. 23, to play golf and enjoy a luncheon, all while raising funds for Susan G. Komen, a foundation for breast cancer awareness and prevention.
The luncheon was part of BCC Rally Week, a week of fundraisers in the Ballantyne area hosted by BCC Rally, a Charlotte-area nonprofit that raises awareness for breast cancer and offers financial support for Rally for the Cure to benefit Susan G. Komen.
A small group of women started the group at Ballantyne Country Club 11 years ago and it has since become the first Rally for the Cure group in the country to raise more than $1 million dollars. BCC Rally Week, which started on Sunday, Sept. 21, with a Walk-and-Wag Pink-a-thon, a non-competitive 5K where people were encouraged to bring pets. BCC Rally Weeks ends on Saturday, Sept. 27, with a Denim & Diamonds gala.
Tuesday, women participated in a silent auction throughout the event that offered a large variation of goods and services, ranging from jewelry to golf accessories to a weeklong stay in an Ocean Isle Beach condo.
The total amount of funds raised will not be released until the BCC Rally Week has concluded, but BCC Rally President Sue Dockstader emphasizes that awareness is more vital than money, as early detection is the best way to prevent death by breast cancer.
After finishing a round of golf Tuesday morning well before the rain started falling, ladies were able to let loose with pink drinks from the bar and free pampering services from Neiman Marcus.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Judith Salerno, CEO and president of Susan G. Komen, addressed attendees while they ate a lunch of pulled-pork barbecue and French fries. It was Salerno’s first appearance at any Rally for the Cure event nationally since assuming the leadership in 2013. She addressed the crowd by discussing topics ranging from new technology used in treating breast cancer to the disproportionate amount of black women dying of the disease as opposed to white women.
Salerno flew in from her home in Dallas for the event, and spent the morning prior to the luncheon meeting volunteers and staff with Komen Charlotte, the Charlotte-area Susan G. Komen affiliate. She said her first trip to Charlotte as CEO of Komen was “energizing,” especially in seeing the work of BCC Rally.
“This event really leads the Rally events around the country in terms of commitment,” Salerno said before the luncheon started. “To see how they recognize the needs in their community and want to do something about it. The community is really coming together.”
Tami Simmons, executive director of Komen Charlotte, gave a short speech before introducing Salerno to the crowd. She said that one of Salerno’s best features is her impactful speaking and was excited to see how “jazzed” the president could get the members in the crowd about their cause.
Simmons was quick to praise BCC Rally, as well, on her arrival to the event, where she said all the pink was “amazingly beautiful” and showed just how united everyone was.
“The relationship (Komen Charlotte) has with BCC Rally 365 days a year is what means the most to us,” Simmons said. “They work tirelessly all year long in support of Komen and what we are trying to do. Today is just a wonderful celebration of the relationship we have across Komen Charlotte and BCC Rally and everything we are trying to accomplish together.”
Some women at the rally wore costumes, and one group of members dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Others donned cowgirl get-ups or added pink tweaks to their outfits such as tutus or headbands.
Even With all the fun being had, the common goal of the rally is to take action against the disease that’s expected to take 40,000 lives in 2014 alone. Many of those in attendance have lost someone close to them or had a loved one affected by breast cancer.
Debbie Violette, a 14-year Ballantyne resident, said she has been involved with BCC Rally from the beginning and attends events like Tuesday’s lunch as a way to pay tribute to a friend who passed away from breast cancer 10 years ago.
“It’s a way for the community to come together to show support for anyone who has dealt with the disease, for anyone who has lost loved ones, and it’s a way to have fun while doing that,” Violette said.
Jigisha Thaker, a Ballantyne resident for over 10 years and member of BCC Rally, played golf, but said that the important part is what the members are raising awareness for with events like Tuesday’s.
Thaker’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in college and within two days of diagnosis was being given a double mastectomy. Her mother is now a 28-year cancer survivor, and although Thaker’s happy for her mom, she also is happy that groups like BCC Rally are raising funds to research technology that prevents and treats breast cancer more effectively than the “radical” ways of the past.
“It happens very quickly,” Thaker said. “I never know when it can strike my family, my friends, my neighbors. That’s why supporting Susan G. Komen and eradicating breast cancer is a really phenomenal thing.”