Stories of inspiration highlight Breast Cancer Alliance luncheon

Ann Flood Granath takes part in the “survivors fashion show” with a little boost from Scott Mitchell and Andrew Mitchell-Namdar. –John Ferris Robben

Ann Flood Granath takes part in the “survivors fashion show” with a little boost from Scott Mitchell and Andrew Mitchell-Namdar. –John Ferris Robben

Since its founding in 1996, the Breast Cancer Alliance (BCA) has given out more than $19 million in grants to fight the disease and it’s been able to do that thanks to the support shown at events like last Thursday’s benefit luncheon and fashion show.

The Greenwich-based BCA put on quite a show at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich for its 19th annual benefit, its biggest fund-raiser of the year. Not only was the packed tent of attendees able to enjoy bidding on high profile, luxury auction items like a trip to an Italian villa and free shoes from Richards every month for an entire year but the crowd got to see the latest items from the fall and spring collections of Brunello Cucinelli worn by professional models as well. There was so much more, though, as was evidenced by what preceded it, the survivor’s fashion show where women who had fought and beaten breast cancer got to strut on the catwalk like Heidi Klum, celebrating their victory over the deadly disease.

That was the goal of the BCA’s event, to inspire and educate while raising critical funds. Without events like this, the BCA would not be able to give out the grants it does to work toward a cure and get women the help they need. The proceeds raised from the event go toward the grants that invest in innovative research, breast surgery fellowships, regional education and cancer screening, and support for underserved communities. So this was a day of fun and triumph but also a reminder of how important the fight against breast cancer is.

“While the cure we aspire to has not been found, progress is being made,” BCA President Sharon Phillips said at the luncheon. “More women are surviving breast cancer for a longer time with a better quality of life. In 2014, the BCA made grants of $1.4 million and we have made it a principle of our work to visit every grant recipient and keep in touch with them. They often let us know of advances in their work that have come from the initial funding they received from the BCA. We believe that we are making a difference, and with your help we hope to support even more innovative research, education and support services.”

Ms. Phillips promised that those supporting the BCA would find it to be “money well spent” and the packed audience was quick to agree, applauding the organization’s efforts and showing its support for the future. According to the BCA, close to $1.2 million was raised by the event and the total is still growing.

ESPN host Mike Greenberg had a story of his own to share, that of a close friend who lost her fight with breast cancer while still inspiring others. More images will be online Monday at

ESPN host Mike Greenberg had a story of his own to share, that of a close friend who lost her fight with breast cancer while still inspiring others. More images will be online Monday at

The event was co-chaired by Jieun Wax and Lisa Fischer, herself a breast cancer survivor and a model in the survivor fashion show, and they thanked everyone in attendance for their support of the BCA. Ms. Wax said the luncheon was “the most successful to date” and that it wasn’t being held just to raise funds but also to celebrate the collective efforts of the BCA and its supporters and as “a reminder of our continued journey to help find a cure for breast cancer.”

“All of us have made Team BCA bigger, stronger and more effective,” Ms. Wax said.

Remembering her own fight against breast cancer, Ms. Fischer said she was “honored and moved” to give back to the organization that had helped her by modeling as a show of support for everyone fighting the disease or those who have relatives or friends who were and for those who might confront the disease in the future, including her daughters, two of whom were in attendance.

“My battle against breast cancer is a part of who I am and it made me stronger,” Ms. Fischer said. “I am grateful for having grown so much from this experience.”

Ms. Phillips said the event would not be possible without the “extraordinary partnership” the BCA has with Mitchells/Richards and praised its “unfailing commitment.” The business, which has locations in Westport and on Greenwich Avenue, and the Mitchell family have been longtime BCA supporters and a key part of the event by setting up the fashion show. Scott Mitchell even served as the auctioneer for the live auction. Mr. Cucinelli was also in attendance as a supporter of the BCA, and Becker Salon in Greenwich got a lot of thank-yous for its help in the survivors fashion show.

While ESPN morning show host Mike Greenberg, of Mike & Mike fame, might have seemed an unusual choice to be the keynote speaker at the benefit, he fit right in. He even joked that the almost entirely female crowd in attendance was “exactly like the demographic background” for his show. Yet the BCA had been looking to book him for years. He had been asked to come to last year’s event but couldn’t and was quick to commit to this year’s as soon as he had the chance.

Mr. Greenberg wasn’t there to talk sports, though. He was there to share the story of Heidi Armitage, a close friend of him and his wife, Stacy, who lost her life to breast cancer and inspired his first novel, All You Could Ask For. All of the author proceeds from that novel went to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and at the benefit, Mr. Greenberg talked about Ms. Armitage and how quickly the disease took such a remarkable woman and how angry and sad that injustice left him. He also mentioned her memorial service and how online testimonials read from women at a cancer support site that Ms. Armitage had never met but still thought of her as sisters ended up inspiring him.

Mr. Greenberg also mentioned how his book tours have brought him into close contact with a lot of people who had fought breast cancer and survived and how none of them ever said, “I have cancer, feel bad for me.”

“The fight and the spirit and the joy that I witnessed amongst all these women in this battle, some of whom told me they were representing friends who weren’t well enough to come and some who said they had just finished their last treatment and had never felt better in their lives, is an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life,” Mr. Greenberg said.

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