Few people are as passionate and committed to their beliefs and ideas as Susan Groves. She has been an avid supporter of increasing awareness and raising funds for breast cancer research and treatment for under-served women for years – making life better for those around her.Struck by the staggering statistic that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime sent Susan on a life-long journey for the cause. As a single mother to a teenage daughter, Susan also wants to protect her daughter in every way possible.
Annual Pink Tie Gala
Susan established Richmond’s Annual Pink Tie Gala five years ago so that any person, no matter their gender, age, health or financial status, could support the cause and enjoy it. For the past 5 years, she has made the Pink Tie Gala her life 12 months of the year. Her passion to raise funds for low income women who can’t otherwise afford it, is unmatched. She spends countless hours every week preparing for the annual event and brainstorming ways to make it even bigger and better than the previous event.
“I want people to know the importance of breast cancer and how easily it can change your life forever. So I’ve made it my life, I wear pink pretty much every day, my car is covered in pink ribbons and pink tie gala, I talk about it with every person I meet and I continue everyday to keep making people aware of breast cancer. My business has information packets, pink bracelets and anything I can find to make people take notice. I know we can achieve so much when we work together and I am committed to this cause because I know we can make a difference.”
Susan is truly passionate about her cause in every aspect of her life and she is an inspiration to everyone around her. Her name has become synonymous with the Pink Tie Gala and fund-raising for other important causes.
The first Pink Tie Gala was attended by about 100 people but that small turn-out did not deter Susan. She pushed ahead by scouring the community for supporters, soliciting financial and volunteer support, and planning for the next year’s event. She established a separate 501c3 charity to manage donations and 100% of the net proceeds go directly to the charity. She made sure that no one, including board members now or in the future, can ever be paid any amount of money from the charity – all profits are dedicated to the cause.
Today, the Annual Pink Tie Gala is an incredibly successful event with tickets usually selling out well before it takes place. It’s truly a gala event when men and women come dressed in formal attire and lots of pink.
Sponsors even come to Susan to offer help now. Doctors, lawyers, CEOs, insurance agents, homemakers, blue collar workers, stay-at-home moms, men and women all enjoy socializing together at the event while dancing, dining and celebrating life. Breast cancer survivors known as the “Celebration of Life Dancers” entertain and bring the crowd to its feet with applause and tears as they witness stories of hope and inspiration.
Impact on the community
Thanks to Susan, the impact on the community is incredible with 76% of every dollar going into programs and grants for people of the local community. The remaining balance goes to Komen National to fund research programs to find a cure.
Susan explains her drive and passion, “Without programs like free mammograms, these under-served women wouldn’t be able to have it done. They would be forced to do what they’ve always done and put their health and welfare second. I have been one of those women and I know there is always something more important, and a choice you have to make because of your situation. Your own health is never as important as someone else’s needs. Making breast cancer screening programs available to low income women is only part of this program. Education, awareness about self-examines, and letting women know that someone cares about their health is also important for these women.”
Pink Tie Gala has provided more than 450 free mammograms for women who would otherwise not be able to afford them. “It needs to be more. And I know I can do more and I will,” explains Susan.
When asked what she would do if she had $50,000, Susan was quick to respond. “There are so many programs I have thought of over the years that I wanted to try. Being one person has held me back more than anything; I wish the prize was more hours in a day. But when I think of the people I could reach with that money and the programs that would be funded, I get so excited. Rewards for mammograms, funding educational programs in high schools, mammogram parties at corporate offices, Pink Tie Gala t-shirts, and so many more things would only increase the awareness and giving within our community.”
Susan is obviously passionate and committed for life. “I’ve seen the difference this event makes in the lives of the people who participate, attend and sponsor, as well as in my life. In the past five years I’ve grown into a very different person and my relationship with my daughter is very different from most mothers. My daughter will tell you she is the heir to Pink Tie and it is our life --12 months of the year we live and breathe Pink Tie -- and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Richmonders wouldn’t have it any other way either Susan. Thank you!
Haley Pontiac GMC to Announce Partnership with Richmond-Area Non-Profits and Community Organizations
Richmond, VA – Haley Pontiac GMC, part of the Haley Automotive Group, will hold a joint press conference with Richmond-area non-profit organizations and community partners. Tuesday, January 26th at 11:00 AM, speakers from the following groups will outline how the local community can become more involved with some of the outstanding charitable organizations and positive initiatives in the Richmond area:
• On Saturday, March 20, the Richmond SPCA, the largest provider of pet-related programs and services in Central Virginia, will host its Eighth Annual Dog Jog and 5K Run at the Robins-Starr Humane Center. • Team Chesterfield – enables local students to participate in the International Children’s Games • River City Charities – hosting the 4th annual Pink Tie Gala benefitting breast cancer awareness and research • Michelle Walters – nominated to compete in the 2010 Man and Woman of the Year campaign benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society • Oh Just Us Girls – announcing a shoe drive benefitting Soles4Souls hosted at Oh Just PampHER Me Shopping Soiree • The American Cancer Society – hosting the annual Cure by Design fundraiser to raise awareness and celebrate cancer survivors • Richmond Flying Squirrels – making a positive impact on the community while providing affordable family fun • Sports Quest – announcing campus development plans and start dates • Chip Tarkenton – host of Player of the Week for more than 20 years hosts 8 News Blitz, raising awareness of student athletes from more than 85 local high schools • Rockfalls Tavern – hosting So You Want To Be a Star, a karaoke competition/fundraiser benefitting Team Chesterfield • MADD – The Walk Like MADD Event at Dorey Park in Richmond, VA. On May 22nd Sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving
The press conference will be held at Haley Pontiac GMC, 9811 Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond, Virginia. Media representatives and the public are encouraged to attend and ask questions of the speakers.
Lunch will be provided (please register in advance) by Brick House Diner.
To register please E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Haley Pontiac GMC:
Haley Pontiac GMC is a member of the Haley Automotive group. Haley Pontiac GMC is a leader in the East Coast market in sales excellence, customer service and community involvement. In 2006, Haley Pontiac GMC was one of only 5 Pontiac dealers in the United States to earn the prestigious Dealer of the Year Award. In 2008, Haley Pontiac GMC won the exclusive OnStar Dealer Award – the only dealer group in Virginia to win the award.
Contact: Barry Moore General Manager Haley Pontiac GMC (804) 721-6797
Heels clicked on the floor to an unheard rhythm as dance couples swirled and turned during another practice at Rigby’s Jig Dance Studio in Richmond. Each moment was filled with a celebration of triumph. The smiles grew with confidence as if each step marked another second, another chance, at enjoying life to the fullest. And these women have a lot to celebrate.
Two-time cancer survivor Cheryl Chandler of Chesterfield wants to learn how to dance. The 2009 Pink Tie Gala, to be held Saturday, Oct. 24, is the perfect opportunity for the 13-year breast cancer survivor, who is a member of the Celebration of Life Dance team. Chandler and dance partner Phil Sisk of Bon Air have decided on the Rumba for their routine.
“I trust my partner,” Chandler said.
Chandler added that the first week was the toughest. “Honestly, I figured I was too old,” she said.
“She found an old partner,” Sisk added with a smile. “We started out with baby steps.” Sisk, president of the Richmond chapter of USA Dance, has been involved with ballroom dancing for the past 15 years. There are currently more than 300 members in the Richmond area, and the group holds two dances a month, he explained. “Cheryl has come a long ways in three weeks,” Sisk said. “Cheryl was timid, but after the first week she was more comfortable.”
The dance partners have been deciding on what the final routine will look like as they develop more steps over the next few weeks. “The most difficult will be to pick up his signals to know where he’s going so not to land on the floor,” Chandler said.
Chandler, however, is ready to dance. Her husband Herman, who she married over 24 years ago, has already picked out a pink cummerbund and pink bow tie for the gala. After the 2009 Pink Tie Gala, Chandler added that Herman may pick up a few dance lessons. “He’s retired and I’ll be retiring soon from the state,” said the payroll and benefits analyst.
For 8-year breast cancer survivor Pat Carnesi, being a member of the Celebration of Life Dance team has been invigorating. She and her dance partner Thomas Mlot will be doing the tango. “I’m excited about learning a new dance,” Carneso said.
She used to shag as a teenager, but the tango offered a chance to be sultry. “He [Mlot] is so easy to follow,” she said.
The Chesterfield resident started practicing two weeks ago and is looking for a short pink dress to wear for the gala. Her husband Don is ready to wear pink. The couple has been married for 17 years and Carnesi just glows talking about him. “He brings me here,” she said. “He took me to all my chemo treatments; every treatment. My family was and is my strength,” she said.
Family was the reason Pink Tie Gala organizer Susan Groves of Chesterfield created the annual event. It wasn’t that Groves’ mother, aunt, sister, daughter or best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided to create the event because the startling national statistic that one out of every eight women has an average risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime put her daughter at risk. “The risk is high – astronomically high for women and I want to stop that,” Groves said.
“Twenty years from now, if my daughter [Katie] ever was diagnosed with breast cancer, which I hope will be gone, I will know that I’ve done everything that I can do,” she said.
The small business owner has created a memorable evening that benefits the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Richmond affiliate. The addition of the Celebration of Life Dance is “pretty spectacular,” she said. “When those dancers hit that floor – I’ll cry.”
This year, two of the dancers are not survivors but being spotlighted for their contributions in the fight against breast cancer. Local surgeon Dr. James Pellicane and researcher Dr. Diane Baer Wilson will also be putting their dance skills to the test.
“Dr. Pellicane has never danced before. He has 45 days to learn the cha-cha,” Groves said.
Rigby’s Jig Dance Studio owner Eleanor Robertson opened the studio’s doors and classes last year for the team to practice and meet the deadline. “It takes a ton of work,” said dance instructor Ashley Byrd.
Byrd explained that several of the gentlemen dancers who are semi-pro volunteered to support the cause of breast cancer awareness. “Over the next month there will be group classes and we’ll be peeking our heads in to help make adjustments during practice. Obviously the men do not know the woman’s part and we are here to help,” she said.
All levels of sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2009 Pink Tie Gala, which features live music from Casper, a silent auction and dancing. Tickets are sold only in advance at $50 per person with 100 percent of the net proceeds donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Richmond affiliate. For more information about the Pink Tie Gala, or to order tickets, visit http://www.pinktiegala.org.
Several local breast cancer survivors have joined the 2009 Celebration of Life dance team that will perform during the Pink Tie Gala Oct. 24 in Richmond. The gala is a fundraiser to benefit the local Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
Each of the local women participating in the gala, along with their families, have faced a rollercoaster of fears and grueling treatments since being diagnosed with breast cancer. They have emerged victorious with a greater love for life and for others. While some are quite reserved by nature and others are more gregarious, each has volunteered to learn new dances and perform them at the gala.
Rigby's Jig Dance Studio in Richmond, owned and operated by Eleanor Robinson, began giving the ladies free dance lessons in August in preparation for the event. The studio has also provided suitable partners for them.
The 2009 Celebration of Life Dancers includes six teams: Barbara Roberson of Dinwiddie will waltz with Roger Harris; Cheryl Chandler of Chesterfield will rhumba with Phil Sisk; Holly Smith of Ashland will do the hustle with Bob Owen; Pat Carnesi of Chester will tango with Tom Mlot; Quinn Kilebenstein of Prince George will cha-cha with Jay Hearns; and Shannon Maroney of Mechanicsville will swing with Connell "CJ" Blankenbeckler.
The finale will consist of a special performance of the cha-cha by Dr. Diane B. Wilson, associate professor at VCU School of Medicine and Massey Cancer Center, and Dr. James Pellicane, director of Bon Secour's Virginia Breast Institute and St. Francis Cancer Institute. Open dance will follow.
Wilson, a member of the Komen Board of Directors, has attended past events, but this will be her first time performing.
"It will be very moving that night because you know what they've (survivors) gone through. And here they are dancing and having a wonderful time," she said.
Roberson admits this dance performance puts her outside her comfort zone. "I'm very nervous. I've never danced a day in my life!" she said.
But, she has risen to the challenge with the help of those at Rigby's Jig. "Eleanor and everyone there is very, very nice," she said.
Carnesi, on the other hand, is outgoing and doesn't feel the least bit shy.
"I've always loved dancing since high school, and now I am learning all these ballroom dances. I have a wonderful partner. He's so funny and really, really good," she said.
Before this experience, Carnesi has never had dance lessons. She is thoroughly enjoying her time spent at Rigby's Jig. "They are wonderful. It has been the most fun month." she said.
"I love life. Every morning I wake up, I'm glad to have another day," Carnesi said.
In addition to the dancing and the live music performed by Casper, the gala will include educational information, a book signing by author Casey Quinlan, and a silent auction. Items range from dinner for four at Chipotles to a one-week stay in a two-bedroom Villa at the Sanctuary Resort and Spa in Costa Rica (valued $4,500) which was donated by Paul Kessler. For a detailed list of items on auctions, visit http://www.pinktiegala.org/2009silentauctions.html.
Susan Groves, president and founder of River City Charities, which hosts the event, said that 100 percent of the net proceeds will go directly to the local Komen Foundation. Members of River City Charities do not receive any of the funds.
Tables and seating will be available for all to enjoy what Groves terms "heavy hors d'oeuvre." A cash bar will be available.
"There is no need to eat dinner before arriving," she said.
The menu includes barbecue meatballs, chicken tenders with dipping sauces, fresh vegetables, and Spanakopita, a vegetarian dish; imported and domestic cheeses, and a variety of fresh fruits and crackers; and a pasta station manned by a chef who will customize your selection. Pasta choices include tortellini, penne, and mushroom ravioli; grilled chicken, baby shrimp, artichoke hearts and grilled vegetables; parmesan cheese, pesto cream sauce, and marinara; and garlic bread sticks.
Tickets are on sale now and will not be available at the door. Groves encourages everyone to buy them early because space is limited.
"We had 100 attend the first year, 400 last year, and we expect more this year," she said.
The Pink Tie Gala will run from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 24 at The Omni, located at 100 South 12th St., Richmond.
Tickets are $50 per person and are available online at http://www.pinktiegala.org by clicking on the pay pal logo midway down the page.
To purchase in person, visit one of the following Richmond locations: Segway Tours, 1301 East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip at the fountain; Rigby's Jig, 5470 W. Broad St. in Willow Place Shopping Center or Bella Rosa Bridal, 11114 W. Broad Street in Glen Allen.
In July 2007, Susan Groves,motivated by her 14 year old daughter’s future risk of breast cancer, began planning the 1st Annual Pink Tie Gala to benefit the Komen Richmond Affiliate. Susan has worked tirelessly since then, even creating her own non-profit organization, River City Charities, to foster the event’s growth and promote breast cancer awareness in our community. The Pink Tie Gala is now one of the premier breast cancer fundraisers in Richmond. She was drawn to Komen’s philosophy of giving back to the community. “I wanted to do something that would reach out to the young people in my area and support the local programs rather than all of the funds going to national groups. I felt a strong connection to Komen in my belief that one person can make a difference and I am determined to do my best to do that.” This year’s Pink Tie Gala will be held on October 24, 2009 at the Omni Hotel and will include a live band, silent auction and the Celebration of Life dancers.
One person CAN make a difference......be that person