Greenwich shows its support for the Breast Cancer Alliance

First Selectman Peter Tesei raised the BCA’s flag outside Town Hall with the help of, from left, BCA President Sharon Phillips, Loren Taufield, the Go For Pink chair, and BCA Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker. –Ken Borsuk

First Selectman Peter Tesei raised the BCA’s flag outside Town Hall with the help of, from left, BCA President Sharon Phillips, Loren Taufield, the Go For Pink chair, and BCA Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker. –Ken Borsuk

Greenwich was certainly “in the pink” on Thursday as Breast Cancer Awareness Month launched with a flag-raising at Town Hall.

Members of the Breast Cancer Alliance (BCA), a Greenwich-based foundation that has given millions of dollars to research to work on a cure for breast cancer, teamed up with First Selectman Peter Tesei for the ceremony to raise the pink flag of the BCA right alongside the American flag. The flag will be on display outside Town Hall for the entire month of October.

“We are very thankful for the Breast Cancer Alliance and the work that you’ve done over the many, many years to bring awareness and necessary resources to help combat this insidious disease,” Mr. Tesei said. “As we know, this is an affliction that knows no economic boundary and no particular race. It hits everyone from the very young all the way to women in their 90s. I recently had a family member diagnosed with breast cancer, so I know how important it is to bring awareness..”

As part of the ceremony, Mr. Tesei, who was joined at the ceremony by Selectman David Theis, said the BCA flag would not only raise awareness but provide some “spirit and calm” to town government. He added personal thanks to all of the local businesses teaming with the BCA this month and said it was “emblematic of what Greenwich is all about.”

This was the seventh year of the flag-raising, and Sharon Phillips, president of the BCA, said the organization was “proud and very grateful” to have it up.

“We are so fortunate to have such tremendous support for our organization in Greenwich,” Ms. Phillips said. “Over the last 19 years we have given over $19 million to research, education and outreach grants. We have been supported wholeheartedly by the town of Greenwich and the entire tri-state community in this area.”

gl-FTR-Breast-cancer-B-10-9While it helped kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Greenwich, the flag-raising will not be the only event to commemorate it. Oct. 2 was also the day the BCA held its Go for Pink, when shoppers at more than 40 participating stores were able to donate 10% of their purchases to the BCA. Several of these businesses held receptions that day to increase awareness. The BCA will use that money to continue its grant program, by which it gives money for cutting-edge research, fellowships and early detection efforts.

The Greenwich Chamber of Commerce helped raise awareness on Oct. 2 through its Women Who Matter luncheon. The regular luncheon featured Barbara Ward, the medical director of the Breast Cancer Center at Greenwich Hospital, who discussed not only what the hospital was doing to treat the disease but her own personal experiences as a doctor. The BCA praised the Chamber for its help spreading the message of awareness and discussing the facts of the disease, and Chamber Executive Director Marcia O’Kane told the Post that the organization was happy to help because of the important role the BCA plays in the community.

“Breast cancer affects everyone, and by gathering the merchants together and the community at large, that’s how we can all work together to make this happen and raise more funds for both awareness and prevention and hopefully a cure someday,” Ms. O’Kane said.

More events are planned. ZumBCA, a Zumba event in partnership with Equinox, will be held on Sunday, Oct. 19, with three separate Zumba sessions running from 1 to 4 p.m. On Nov. 6 at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich, there will be the BCA’s 19th annual fashion show and benefit luncheon, which is the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the organization.

Yonni Wattenmaker, executive director of the BCA, said days like this were not just about raising awareness through wearing pink, which most in attendance at the flag-raising had done. They also served as a reminder, she said, as to how prevalent breast cancer was.

“More and more men and women are surviving this disease, but it’s still one in eight women who are diagnosed, and it’s too many,” Ms. Wattenmaker said. “We need women to know the risks and we need them to know the statistics, whether you’re 28 or whether you’re 93.”

Ms. Wattenmaker also spoke to the significance of the flag, which features the figures of three women joined together. She told the Post that seeing the flag flying outside Town Hall would be a powerful reminder of all the lives breast cancer has touched and that people can come together to provide support when it is needed the most.

“Each one of us might or might not be strong when faced with adversity, but when we come together, how much stronger and safer and secure do we feel when we are confronted with something with which we might struggle?” Ms. Wattenmaker said. “That’s really what today is about.”

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