Susan G. Komen Chicago is gearing up for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its 20th Anniversary, and this year it plans to go big.
Leading up to the non-profit’s Ignite the Fight Gala presented by Wintrust, Komen Chicago will turn the city pink with a bridge lighting and a day full of festivities.
Hosted by Mario Lopez, Emmy-winning host of “Extra,” the Ignite the Fight Gala presented by Wintrust on Oct. 21 is the anchor of the festivities, and those interested in celebrating beyond the “main event” can take part in a Rosé 3K Wine Walk with City Winery Chicago Riverwalk as well as the Raising the Bar Gala After Party hosted by INDISTRY TV at The Virgin Hotel Chicago. The events will celebrate the profound impact that Komen Chicago has made throughout the city over the past 20 years, and will raise funds to enable the organization to continue funding breakthrough research and providing critical breast health services for the underserved. For a complete list of October initiatives, visit www.komenchicago.org.
The Ignite the Fight Gala presented by Wintrust kicks off with a bridge lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. led by Ed Wehmer, president and CEO of Wintrust. The river will be illuminated in pink as the Dearborn Street bridge, Clark Street bridge, City Winery Riverwalk and The Virgin Hotel Chicago light up. The Gala begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Westin River North (320 N. Dearborn St.) and will feature NBC5 anchor Zoraida Sambolin, a breast cancer survivor, as the emcee for the evening. The event will honor 20 More Than Pink Heroes for their compassion, bravery and leadership in the fight against breast cancer, including Roz Varon, ABC7 traffic anchor and a breast cancer survivor. Additionally, Komen Chicago will present awards to exceptional survivors, doctors and supporters who have made significant contributions to the fight, including Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, who also will deliver the Gala’s keynote address. Pink ties and pink cocktail attire are encouraged! Tickets are on sale at www.komenchicago.org/gala.
“We are proud to host these exciting events and make such a major statement in our city during the month of October,” says Bonnie Gordon, Komen Chicago executive director. “We all know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but at Komen Chicago we prefer to think of it as Breast Cancer Action Month. This is the time to remind everyone of what we must do to ensure quality care for every Chicagoan.” Gordon says more than 1,000 people in the Chicago area die from breast cancer each year, and there is a large disparity in the city, with the mortality rate of African-American women being 40 percent higher than Caucasian women. Many of those deaths could have been prevented, if a diagnosis had been made earlier and all had optimal care.
The 20 More Than Pink Heroes who will be honored at the Gala include those who have lost loved ones to breast cancer or faced the disease themselves, as well as activists, volunteers and caregivers who support patients through diagnosis and treatment.