The Anne Springs Close Greenway Dairy Barn lit up pink for the kickoff party May 8 for the Carolinas’ Kickin’ It Challenge Unite in the Fight weekend benefiting breast cancer patient programs and research.
The weekend was sponsored by Discoveries Soccer Club and Charlotte Independence and featured the party and a weekend youth soccer tournament featuring 65 teams at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill. Last year, the weekend’s events raised more than $60,000 for Carolinas Healthcare System’s Levine Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen of Charlotte.
About 375 tickets were sold for the party, up 50 from last year, said event co-founder Shana Shivel. Dozens of local businesses donated items for the silent and live auctions, with big-ticket items such as a golf cart, sporting event tickets and trips to Hilton Head and Antigua. Entertainment was provided by the band Early Ray, and emcee was Matt Harris from 107.9 The Link. Shivel said proceeds are still being tallied but that revenue from party tickets and the tournament exceeded last year’s totals.
Shivel founded the event in honor of her mother, Debbie Whitener, who died from breast cancer in 2008. Shivel founded the event with Dr. Sarah Morris of Novant Health Carmel OB/GYN Associates. The pair’s sons play on the same Discoveries soccer team, and they bonded over their desire to make a difference in the future of women’s health.
A majority of funds raised stays in York County, an aspect of fundraising that is important to Shivel and Morris. Women battling breast cancer should not have to “choose whether to pay for chemo or an electric bill,” Morris said.
Through the Levine Cancer Institute’s Rock Hill office, women in need are identified through a Patient Special Needs Fund. This fund helps breast cancer patients struggling financially by providing gas and grocery gift cards, help with household bills and temporary housing assistance if needed. Funds are also being used to expand health screenings and a nutritionist program in York County.
Some of the funding for the Komen Charlotte Community Grant Programs will go toward diagnostic 3D mammography screenings for low-income patients and compression therapy as part of a lymphedema management program.
“I’ve never seen another grassroots event like this,” said Komen Charlotte Executive Director Tami Simmons. “We are very lucky that they trust that we are going to be good stewards of the money they raise for us.”
“This whole crowd is our friends and neighbors and supporters who come together for us and the cause,” Shivel said. “It takes such an amazing team to pull this off and they just wholeheartedly believe in what we’re trying to do.”
“That’s what I love about Fort Mill,” said event attendee Lisa Payne. “People here really support each other.”