By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
Women 4 Women doubled their fundraising this year during their second-annual benefit to help women in Henry County undergoing cancer treatment.
The benefit, held at the Mt. Pleasant Golf and Country Club on July 10, brought in $8,184, which will go to HCI Hospice Care Services in Mt. Pleasant, H2O and Henry County Health Center to meet the needs of cancer patients. There were 114 participants at the event this year. Last year, they gave away $4,700 with 100 participants. The money will go to Henry County residents.
The idea for Women 4 Women began when a group of golfers, who frequent the Mt. Pleasant Country Club, started organizing tournaments to raise money for the Susan G. Komen organization for breast cancer research. After a couple years organizing that event, the women decided they would rather keep the money local and started their own organization ? Women 4 Women ? specifically for women battling cancer in Henry County. Now, the event includes golf, table games and a bridge tournament.
Women 4 Women acts as a middleman for other organizations in Henry County to provide extra support where health insurance can?t. Women 4 Women is unable to reach out to cancer patients in need on their own because HIPPA laws prevent them from knowing who is seeking cancer treatments.
?So many people I know have been affected by cancer,? said Karla Lance, Women 4 Women board member. ?We wanted to help people directly. When you get cancer, insurance doesn?t cover everything. You still have to buy groceries.?
For one woman, Women 4 Women funds helped her purchase a new wardrobe after she lost weight from cancer treatments.
Another was given a cellphone with a plan so she could contact her family and keep them up to date on her treatments.
Yet another cancer patient, bedridden from treatments, was given a TV for her bedroom, which also enabled her to video chat with her family.
This year, they are looking into having one of their partner organizations help women purchase wigs ? something not covered by insurance.
Linda McDowell, who is involved in Women 4 Women and a cancer survivor herself, said she felt like the community was behind them with the switch to raising money specifically for Henry County. While funding cancer research through organizations like Susan G. Komen and Relay 4 Life is important, McDowell believes the money can do just as much good being directly given to cancer patients.
?I know it?s helped people,? McDowell said. ?This can do more personal things for the women who need it and their family.?
After Women 4 Women?s first year, bridge tournament organizer Mary Ann Messer said the group became more and more enthused by its success, believing the local aspect attracts more donors.
Similarly, hosting a bridge tournament during the event also helped attract people unable or uninterested in playing golf. Messer mentioned how relaxing and enjoyable an evening of air conditioning and friendship was as six tables of four people each tried their hand at bridge.
?There are so many needs out there and this is just one little area where we thought we could make a difference,? Messer said.
Susie Kuhens, who focuses on reaching out to donors for Women 4 Women, noticed the positive, gracious response toward the local efforts. While people were generous when Kuhens asked for donations for the Susan G. Komen organization, their kindness shown toward Women 4 Women was overwhelming.
?I?ve never had cancer,? Kuhens said. ?Nobody in my family has really had cancer or anybody really close to me. It?s just something you do because. You want to help. Our organization is trying to do that.?
One of the receiving organizations of Women 4 Women funds ? H20 ? is grateful to Women 4 Women coming alongside them and providing ongoing assistance. This year, they gave back as well, helping out at the benefit by providing a lot of the food and many members of H20 attended that night.
H20 gives as they see a need through such things as gas cards and gift cards to grocery stores.
?We?re really glad when people come on board with us,? said Lori Bolin, with H2O. ?We give as we see the need. And the need is continued. I don?t think a month ever goes by that we don?t have at least three to five people to help at a minimum.?
At a tip night fundraiser for H20 at Pizza Ranch, Bolin said a woman who had been helped before through H20 slipped $100 into her hand, saying when she was going through a crisis they helped her get back on her feet.
?It was really heartwarming,? Bolin said. ?When you see it come full circle like that, you don?t expect that.?
Bolin hopes through their partnership with Women 4 Women to continue affecting more change in Henry County by lending support to cancer patients.
Beyond financial help, Women 4 Women wants to uplift people too. ?Even people who don?t need it financially, we just like to let people know we?re thinking of you,? Lance said, adding that they send care baskets to let people know they?re thinking of them.
Anyone battling cancer or who knows someone battling cancer in Henry County who would like assistance can reach out to any Women 4 Women member, H2O or HCI.