Two small nonprofits in the region operate fairly quietly as they support those with breast cancer. The Olean-based Pink Pumpkin Project helps men and women through treatment; the Sisterhood Wellness Center of Derby raises funds to bring 20 breast cancer survivors to Holiday Valley in Ellicottville on retreats.
These little groups are a big deal to Alyssa Rowe and Michelle DeYoe.
The Pumpkin Project helped DeYoe’s mother, Tammie, through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments during the last year. Rowe’s mother, Amy, has benefited from Sisterhood Wellness weekends since her diagnosis and treatment in 2013. That’s why the daughters hosted a kickball tournament last spring during senior year at Portville High School, sending half of the $382 in proceeds to the two organizations. DeYoe has since started basic training in the Army National Guard, so Rowe, 18, a freshman at Jamestown Community College taking up nursing, talked for both of them this week.
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Q. Why do the fundraiser?
We had to do a senior project. It had be something within the community. Michelle’s mom had recently been diagnosed so we figured we would help out our parents by helping out the organizations that had helped them originally. We wanted to show them the appreciation we felt for helping out our moms.
Q. What has your mother’s breast cancer diagnosis been like for you and the family?
It was really hard. My dad (Thomas, works for Liberty Mutual insurance) used to travel a lot for work, sometimes a week at a time. He would always be gone when she would have her chemo treatments because my sister Alexis and I would have to go to school, do sports and help her at the same time because the treatments really tired her out. It was really stressful, and it was stressful for my dad because he wasn’t always able to be home.
Q. How has the Sisterhood Wellness Center helped your family during the recovery and remission process?
It was really important. It helped her mentally and it also gave her some new friends and another support system. They understand what she went through. She talks to them quite a bit. ... She considers them family, too.
The Pink Pumpkin Project pumpkin sale is going on now at thepinkpumpkinproject.org. For $12.50, you can buy a special pumpkin, pick it up Oct. 17 in Olean and support the work of the nonprofit group. Sisterhood Wellness Center will host its next retreat Oct. 14; it’s already booked solid. Support the cause at sisterhoodwellnesscenter.org.
Q. Talk about the kickball fundraiser? What was it like and what touched you most during and after it?
It was at the Portville school. We hung signs up all over town and all over the school. We wanted to make it not so outrageously priced where no one would show up but not too cheap, where we wouldn’t make any money. We asked for donations from teachers and they donated pretty much everything we had snack-wise. Four or five teams showed up to play in a double-elimination tournament. They were all younger. The people that worked the event formed a staff group and played, too. We lost. It was really nice seeing all these younger people coming out on a weekend to support our cause.
Q. What would you like to tell those considering making a breast cancer-related donation in October?
Donate to the local, smaller organizations. Most of them need a lot of help because they don’t get the support that the bigger groups do, and they do make a big impact on people locally.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon