Cancer touches every family at one time or another. In a sea of raising awareness, the core fight is to find a cure through research and comfort those facing cancer today. The fifth annual Colors of Courage does both through a classy-casual autumn barbeque, dance and auction full of family and friends.
Colors of Courage will be held Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. at the Anchorage home of Reise and Natalie Officer. The annual event is the flagship fundraiser for Hope Scarves, which provides scarves, stories and hope to women facing cancer. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer research.
“I like to say the Colors of Courage are the beautiful and varied hopes of women facing cancer,” says Lara MacGregor, founder of Hope Scarves. “They are the deep compassion and determination of loved ones who support them, and of course, they represent the bright scarves we collect and send out through Hope Scarves that carry the stories of cancer survivors. We are all part of this tapestry.”
MacGregor was 30 years old and seven months pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2014. In 2007, a mutual friend mailed MacGregor a box of scarves with a note saying, “You can do this!” It was a heartfelt gift that led to the creation of Hope Scarves, a Louisville-based nonprofit serving women facing cancer. Hope Scarves captures the stories of courageous women who have faced cancer, along with the headscarves they wore during treatment. The scarves are then dry-cleaned through a partnership with Highland Cleaners. The scarves, survivor stories and scarf-tying instructions are then passed along to another woman facing cancer, spreading a message of hope.
To date, Hope Scarves has distributed more than 6,000 scarves and survivor stories to all 50 states and nine countries. The women who receive them range in age from 5 to 93, and they collectively fight more than 90 types of cancer.
“Colors of Courage is not your typical black-tie fundraiser,” says MacGregor. “In fact, leave your black tie at home! We launched Hope Scarves five years ago with a gathering in the backyard of my dear friends Lauren and Jason Stanbery.” Today, the event has grown to over 500 people raising over $125,000 for Hope Scarves each year. As the organization and event have grown, it has maintained a casual, welcoming feel.
“We hope you feel as if you are simply gathering with family and friends to celebrate the joys of life together,” explains Natalie Officer, event host. “My husband, Reise, and our children welcome everyone to our farm, and this lets us give back to a cause and area of research that is close to our hearts.”
For the fifth year, River Road BBQ will provide an autumn barbeque feast for guests, music will be provided by Porch Possums, and a live and silent auction and restaurant raffle will entertain guests.
Cancer – and awareness of it – is not “just” for October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month; cancer kills every day of the year. “When first diagnosed in 2007, I found little comfort in, ‘We love tatas’ or, ‘Save second base’ campaigns,” recalls MacGregor. “I never ran a race in a pink tutu. It all just seemed to make light of a situation that scares me to my core. There is a reality behind this disease. Once you are a metastatic cancer patient, you are in treatments until the treatments stop working, you run out of options and you die. There should be more options for women with breast cancer, and that comes from research.”
Hope Scarves is a resource whether you are a patient, survivor or have a loved one facing cancer. The money raised helps send and collect scarves and stories, provides writing and scarf-tying workshops and gives funds to metastatic breast cancer research.
“We have a lot to celebrate this year,” says MacGregor. “Hope Scarves was recently named GLI’s Small Business of the Year People’s Choice Award, we have several new national partnerships, we’ll soon move into new office space and most importantly, we’ve invested $150,000 in research. I am turning 40 in a couple weeks and am just so thankful to be healthy. The best is yet to come!” VT
Tickets to the Colors of Courage event are limited to the first 500 guests and are selling quickly. Visit hopescarves.org to purchase tickets, which are $75 each. Colors of Courage is held at 11905 La Grange Road in Anchorage at the Officer farm. The evening begins at 7 p.m. and includes a short program at 9 p.m. Attire is comfortable Southern backyard barbeque.
Story by Laura Ross | Courtesy photos