Figure skating legend Hamilton to speak at In The Pink luncheon
Officials with the annual In the Pink of Health Luncheon in The Woodlands, an event that helps raise funds for various breast cancer awareness programs, education and research, announced the keynote speaker for this year’s event will be Olympic figure skating gold medalist and icon Scott Hamilton.
Luncheon co-chairs Cheryl Brady and Tiffany McClung both said Hamilton’s presence at the annual event, which draws a sell-out crowd each year estimated at about 1,200 attendees, is exciting because the iconic figure skater has himself battled cancer — testicular — and provides a different angle on breast cancer from a male point of view: stressing the importance of men supporting the women in their lives who are battling breast cancer.
“He is so motivational. We felt lucky to have him speak,” McClung said.
Brady said breast cancer can also afflict men, but a more common intersection for men is supporting their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers or other women in their lives who are facing a battle with breast cancer. Hamilton being the guest speaker at the Oct. 12 event is exciting for many, she added.
“He has a very inspiring story,” Brady said. “He has been dealt several cancers and battled through them. Men go through (breast cancer) with their wives, their moms. We’re trying to get more men in the picture.”
Hamilton is widely known for his success on the ice as a gold-medal winning figure skater at the 1984 Winter Olympics, hosted in Sarajevo — part of the former Yugoslavia. A survivor of three bouts of cancer himself, Hamilton helps raise both awareness and funds for research through several organizations, including the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, the Angel Mentoring Program
The In the Pink of Health organization was founded by officials at Memorial Hermann in 2001, with the annual luncheon helping raise funds for numerous breast cancer initiatives and events, as well as donations to research and education. The 2017 luncheon, according to information provided by Memorial Hermann, helped provide funding to a multitude of local groups, including the Interfaith The Woodlands Community Clinic, the Judith L. Robinson Foundation, as well as The Rose and Canopy facilities.
“This is the luncheon that has been going on for 18 years…a group of women who want to raise awareness of breast and ovarian cancers,” Brady said. “Our luncheon is our main campaign where we raise most of the funds. It raises funds for the community and raises money for research.”
Some of the funds raised at the event go to Interfaith of The Woodlands, where the money is used to pay for breast cancer screening and mammograms for women in financial need or with no insurance who otherwise cannot afford the the tests. Other efforts receiving funding include Canopy, a unique facility at Memoral Hermann - The Woodlands that offers a space for cancer survivors and their relatives to come, get counseled and also taking cooking classes.
McClung added to Brady’s comments, saying the event began as a humble women’s health initiative and has, “Just grown and grown over the years.” During the 18 years of the event, McClung said much of the funds that have been raised were dedicated to opening the Canopy facility and also keeping it open and serving the community.
In 2017, the luncheon raised an estimated $227,000 for Canopy, as well as $66,000 for Interfaith cancer screenings. Another $40,000 was raised for educational materials given to cancer survivors at the hospital, and $47,000 was provide to The Rose for diagnostics, screening and treatment for women of any age.
This year, as part of the fund-raising efforts, a two-year lease for a 440i BMW convertible will be auctioned off. The lease was generously donated by officials from BMW of North Houston & The Woodlands.
The massive luncheon involves 41 volunteers who work together for months preparing for the event, McClung said.
“We have 41 unpaid volunteers. They work tirelessly,” McClung explained. “They are extremely passionate about this. They all have a story. All of these women have a story and have been touched in some way by cancer.”
Although breast cancer awareness efforts have grown exponentially over the past decade, McClung said the In the Pink of Health event raises money that is utilized locally, which is important.
“Breast cancer (awareness) has gotten out there (in public) so huge…what makes us different than other charities is what we really focus on it taking care of people in the community,” McClung added. “Breast cancer has not gone away. We are lucky the community is so generous.”