1st Annual White County Breast Cancer Survivors’ and Nursing Scholarship Dinner
Posted By Sparta Live | April 22, 2002 12:00 am
Kim Swindell Wood
An overwhelming response from White Countians and visitors from surrounding areas left standing-room-only at the Agricultural Complex on Thursday night as attendees gathered to honor survivors of breast cancer.
Melinda Williams, co-chairman for the 1st Annual White County Breast Cancer Survivors’ and Nursing Scholarship Dinner, explained to approximately 400 supporters how the idea of the celebration of life was formulated.
Williams, along with co-chairman, Dru Milligan, opened the ceremonies by explaining the step-by-step plans that resulted in honoring the women who had survived breast cancer.
Mary Clement, wife of U.S. Congressman Bob Clement, was the keynote speaker for the dinner. Mary Clement is a strong supporter of legislation regarding breast cancer issues and co-chaired the Cancer Research Foundation Gala last year, helping to raise $1.6 million.
“Along with dedicated members of Congress, we have organizations such as the national Breast Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer Society and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation working on behalf of all women to educate and assist in treatment and find a cure for breast cancer,” said Clement.
Clement gave statistics on breast cancer and encouraged women to have regular mammograms. “It is wonderful to see so many friends and be among so many individuals of courage and strength who have faced difficult obstacles with a determination to overcome,” she said. “You are truly an inspiration.”
An emotional candle-lighting ceremony was conducted as approximately 50 survivors of breast cancer were called to the stage and presented with a pink candle. After all the women had gathered on the stairs, each survivor lit her candle in remembrance of her personal struggle with the disease and for those who lost the battle.
Special speakers for the evening included Dr. Don Pate, who gave an emotional account of the long battle of one of his cancer patients, who was recently diagnosed in remission.
Clair Daras, a member of the nursing profession, related her personal experiences in battling breast cancer.
The proceeds from the dinner were designated to fund a nursing scholarship for a White County High School senior who plans to pursue a nursing career at Tennessee Technological University. Dr. Marilyn Musacchio, Dean of TTU School of Nursing, introduced the recipient of the scholarship. Valorie Bumbalough, who had both of her grandmothers diagnosed with breast cancer, tearfully accepted the scholarship and thanked everyone for their encouragement and support.
Expositor Publisher Suzanne Dickerson presented the scholarship committee with $1,000 that was donated from ticket sales for The Expositor’s Upper Cumberland Showcase for Women.
Andrea Conte, wife of gubernatorial candidate, Phil Bredesen, also attended the dinner and was impressed by the large turnout for the event. “This is an outstanding community,” said Conte. “I think everyone involved in the function did a terrific job.”
According to Conte, her early career in nursing deeply influenced her awareness about breast cancer. “This type of event demonstrates what a community can accomplish when they work together,” she said.
Several other political officials attended the dinner in support of breast cancer awareness, but were unavailable for interview after the event.
As Williams made her closing remarks for the evening, she thanked everyone who had helped make the event a success and expressed her desire to see the event expand for next year.