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October 3, 2009
By MARYELLEN FILLO
It was hard to believe that the rollicking party at Elizabeth Park's Pond House Thursday night was about cancer.
But it was Hartford Hospital's fourth annual Pink Flamingos event. For partygoers, it was the perfect way to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"I come every year because I believe awareness can make a difference," said 31-year-old AmyTurner, an East Hartford mother who bought a pink sweater for the event, which benefits the hospital's Partnership for Breast Care.
"It's a classic case of turning lemons into lemonade, and I think all the publicity and advocacy for breast-cancer research has made a difference in the past 15 years," she said. "And that's the way to pave the way to a cure."
It was the cause that attracted most people to the event, though the festivities included awards and introductions of a who's-who of hospital staff, including the hospital's Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center director, Dr. Andy Salner; the event's honorary chairman, Dr. Ed Cronin; partnership medical director Dr. Andrew Ricci; and 2009 event chairwoman Joyce Hynes.
"We were the Casserole Cavalry for my sister when she had breast cancer," said Dianne Greenier of Andover, explaining how she and others helped Judith Melchreit, a Wethersfield breast-cancer survivor and member of the partnership's community advisory board.
Melchreit used the opportunity to pitch her Team Towanda Foundation, which produced an inspirational cookbook, The Charge of the Casserole Calvary, as a way to raise money for breast-cancer research and programs.
"We have raised over $200,000 since we started," said Melchreit, noting the team is named after the fictional female warrior. "And we are not done yet."
The room was a sea of pink as attendees set the mood by sporting the upbeat signature color for breast-cancer awareness. Among them was Sharon Jacobson, a pharmaceutical rep who specializes in oncology drugs.
"That is not why I am here," said Jacobson, who was wearing her shocking-pink, summer-weight blazer one last time before putting it away for the winter. "I'm here as a woman, and someone who lost a family member to cancer."
Among those at Hartford Hospital's 4th annual Pink Flamingo event Thursday are, left to right, Dianne Greenier, Lynne Lantagne and Judith Melchreit. (MaryEllen Fillo/The Hartford Courant / October 2, 2009)