The Luncheon of Hope committee from left: Meri-Lynn Butler, Betty Taylor, Anne Marie Muraska, Gail Scott, Cathy DiPietro, Tannys Laughren, Alice-Mae Varpio, Laurie Zinger, Martha O’Daiskey, Elizabeth Taillefer and Michelle Cloutier. Missing from the photograph are Sue Bonish and Louise Young.
Over the past 20 years, the Luncheon of Hope Organizing Committee, a small army of women, has raised almost $1 million for the Northern Cancer Foundation (NCF) to help fund breast cancer research and equipment, and patient care conducted at the Northeast Cancer Centre.
The date for the 2019 Luncheon of Hope at the Caruso Club will be Friday, Sept. 27.
A group of hard-working volunteers – “the unstoppable 11” as committee chair Mari-Lynn Butler calls them – meet on a monthly basis to plan for the annual luncheon.
“It is a dynamic group of women who all bring their expertise to the luncheon, says Butler, who has been on the committee for 11 years and six years as chair. “We have one hour a year to make it or break it, to reach our target.”
That one hour, which raised $69,500 in 2018, takes hundreds of hours of planning and work to ensure its success.
About 600 people attend the luncheon to listen to speakers who deliver has a message of resilience and hope and provide updates on local breast cancer research.
All of the money raised by the luncheon stays in Sudbury. The purchase of-state-of-the-art equipment has advanced medical research at the cancer centre. Money raised in 2018 went toward the purchase of the Incucyte S3 Live Cell Analysis System, which allows researchers to acquire and analyze cell imagery around the clock.
Previously money raised by the Luncheon of Hope was used to purchase an inverted fluorescence microscope that allows researchers to visualize the effects of cancer drugs on healthy cells as well as breast cancer cells, and an Automated Capillary Electrophoresis Machine that is used to analyze very small amounts of protein extracted from patient biopsies and surgeries.
Keynote speakers have included Gerry Rogers, filmmaker, politician, and breast cancer survivor, began filming her experience with breast cancer, from the moment her hair started falling out from chemotherapy, creating the Gemini-award winning film My Left Breast.
In his letter supporting the Luncheon of Hope Organizing Committee’s nomination for a Community Builders Award, Mark Hartman, vice-president, cancer and clinical support programs at Health Sciences North said, the committee has “made a significant impact on health care in Sudbury and for northeastern Ontario.
The Luncheon of Hope Organizing Committee is one of the most effective, motivated and irrepressible fundraising groups that Sudbury has seen. While all fundraising efforts are impressive, to have sustained the effort over 20 years is truly remarkable and deserving of a Community Builders Award,” Hartman said.
Butler thanks the Northern Cancer Foundation for helping to make the luncheon a success.
“We are so thankful for our corporate sponsors, local businesses and individual ticket holders who join us every year. They are our community partners and we are all investing in hope.”
And as Linda Ockwell-Jenner, the three-time cancer survivor who spoke at the luncheon in 2018, says, “If we don’t have hope, we’ve got nothing,”