Monday, February 11, 2013

Get your game on!

You've been to charity events, and you've been to sports events - but have you ever been to a charity sports event? Can you imagine anything more fun than playing dodge ball, rock climbing, and jumping on enormous trampolines for a good cause? Thanks to B*CURED, you have the chance to do all of them on February 23rd! I am very passionate about non-profits, and this one is dear to my heart. I have too many friends who have lost loved ones to brain cancer. More research is needed, and it is needed now.

I recently sat down with 2 of the 4 event co-chairs, Kristin Duda and Karena Bailey, to talk about why they believe in this cause. Sadly, both of my dear friends lost their mothers to brain cancer. My heart aches for them, but I am so incredibly proud of all that they do to honor their mothers through B*CURED. For more information visit the B*CURED website. Come to the event. I will be there, and I'll be ready to play. Hope you will too! 

What is B*CURED? And why was it started? 

Kristin Duda (KD) - B*CURED is a volunteer non-profit organization based in Greenwich. It strives to find a cure for brain cancer by providing grants for innovative brain cancer research.  The name stands for Brain Cancer Understanding, Research, Education and Development.  The organization was founded in 2008 by Melissa Salame and Debbie Needle after each lost a parent to brain cancer. 

Having lost a parent to brain cancer - why were you drawn to this charity?

Karena Bailey (KB) - For starters, it was local. Therefore it felt reachable, but also powerful. After watching my mom suffer I knew I had to make a difference and B*CURED has let me do that.  I found the bigger brain cancer charities left little room for me to personally make a difference -- I could run a race or just raise money, but I had little involvement in where it went.

KD - When I moved out from NYC to Connecticut, I was looking for a charitable organization to give some of my time to that would be meaningful on a personal level.  Having lost my Mom when I was 16, I really wanted to honor her and put my time towards fighting this devastating disease.  Brain cancer isn't as widely talked about or known as other cancers, such as breast cancer and colon cancer, so it was hard to find an organization where I could do more than just send a check. I remember reading Greenwich Magazine after having moved to the area in the spring of 2008 and seeing a blurb about B*CURED. I emailed the founders Debbie and Melissa right away. After meeting them, I felt like it was fate, and I knew I wanted to team up with them and together we could help make a difference. 

KB - In 4 years with B*CURED, we have raised $400,000 all of which has awarded 8 research grants. Because of a special course of treatment using "glio wafers" that came out of the exact type of research we support through B*CURED, my mom lived 22 months (she was predicted to live only 9). If I can be a part of helping a scientist change the course of this disease, I feel like I am doing right by my mom. It is without a doubt incredible to know we can affect this disease.

KD - Since I've been involved, I have met some of the most amazing people who have also been affected by this disease.  While my hearts sinks when I meet someone else who has had to endure this disease, I also feel fortunate to have these new relationships in my life where we have this common bond.  

Why does research make a difference in the fight against brain cancer?  

KB - As I mentioned above, through various types of research, we may find something that will help someone survive. Unlike other cancers, patients are rarely willing to offer their brains to research. What these scientists do is crucial to changing the course of this disease. We understand that brain cancer and tumor patients are in desperate need of new effective treatments.  By funding innovative researchers, we can bring new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.

KD - Brain cancer research is sorely under-funded. I believe many of the greatest achievements in science and medicine have been driven by entrepreneurism and its these innovative researchers that can be a powerful force in advancing brain cancer research. I recall my grandmother traveling with my Mom to other countries to get access to new treatments and medicine, and I only wish we could accelerate research to find a cure as quickly as possibly.  

What will this year's event be like?

KB - Totally different from the standard cocktail party fundraiser. It's at Chelsea Piers with private access to the batting cages, trampoline room and rock wall. And we will host the event on an indoor turf. It is a tailgate meets Friday Night Lights. It will be fantastic! 

KD - We wanted to change up the expected charitable evening and make it a playful, fun evening for us adults to be like kids again. We have incredible food vendors participating including Station Eats, Melt Mobile, Food Design Catering, Medea Vodka and The Sweet Life. I am also especially excited about our auction since we have incredible donations this year and for the first time we have a live auction that will be led by Christie's.  One item that might steal the show is a vacation in a private residence on the exquisite island of Mustique - this is a trip of a lifetime!!!  Yankees fans, food aficionados, golfers and fly wheel enthusiasts, to name a few, will all be excited by our offerings. 

If you could be given any prize from the auction, what would it be?  


KD - I know it sounds cheesy, but seeing us raise enough money for one or more research grants would be my biggest prize!  

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