When Saint Patricks Day rolls around every March, the focus is on green beer, shamrocks and corned beef and cabbage. But combine St. Patrick with people shaving their heads to draw attention to children fighting cancer and raise money to cure the disease, and you get St. Baldricks Day fundraisers across the country.
So as not to get lost in all that green beer and corned beef, this year, St. Baldricks took place on Halfway to St. Paddys Day, known on the calendar as Sept. 17.
Locals are known for their generous hearts and now their many bald heads after fun, festivities and the ritual of headshaving to Conquer Kids Cancer! last Saturday. Of course, the event could only be held in one place in Durango, and thats the Irish Embassy Pub.
Owners Jerry Hembury and Mike Graham visited a pub in Las Vegas that was having a St. Baldricks fundraiser and thought it would be a perfect fit for their own pub. They werent able to attend last weeks event, but manager Phil Brennan not only was on hand, he was on the list of shavees.
Nathaniel Rodd, Steve Rodd and Jack Hewlitt all went bald-pated in honor of childhood-cancer survivor Teddy Rodd. Sarah Shirling, Craig McCormack and Mirko Montanez, all Irish Embassy employees, made sure there will be a lot of light reflecting off bald heads at the pub. Shirling and her friend, Erin Clein, raised more than $2,000 for St. Baldricks.
Mackenzie Kincaid raised more than $1,300 for St. Baldricks.
Gary Parmley came all the way from California to participate. The list also included K.D. Choate, Kelsey Eriksen, Kevin Meier, Jordan Barnett, Jeff Carpenter, Thomas Skjola and Bagheera Latimer.
All told, the shavees raised more than $5,980 for the cause.
St. Baldricks has contributed more than $76 million for childhood cancer research since it began giving money in 2005. That makes it the second largest supporter of the research after the U.S. government. The goal isnt just to cure the cancer, its to give survivors long healthy lives. Right now, many cures lead to major complications for growing young bodies.
You dont have to get your head shaved to support St. Baldricks. To learn more, and to donate, visit www.stbaldricks.org.
While Im on the subject of childhood cancer, I have a happily ever after story about Sarah Shank, who I wrote about in my early days as the Neighbors columnist in 2001. Shank was diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in her hip when she was 11. After handling a years worth of surgeries, chemo and radiation, all with great grace, she was pronounced cancer-free.
Her journey since then has been full of great accomplishment after founding Country Kids with Cancer and continued struggles with the repercussions from the treatment. Country Kids with Cancer has helped numerous children whose families have to travel to get medical care.
Shank is all grown up now, and shes a senior at Oklahoma Baptist University. Shell graduate in December with a degree in anthropology and minor in sociology. On Aug. 19, she married Jordan Sammer, who hails from McPherson, Kan., in a beautiful wedding in Shawnee, Okla. They met through a mutual friend last summer.
The newlyweds are planning to return to Durango to pursue a career in emergency medical services.
Shanks parents are in the business of helping others. Her mom, Cindi, is the executive director of the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross, and her dad, Bill, is the assistant chief of operations of the Los Pinos Fire Protection District.
Enjoying idyllic fall birthdays are Peggy Herrera, Brendon Shaline, Chase Collins, John Wells, Jim Burpee, Don Oliver, Richard Siegele, Troy Moore, Mallorie Godbold, Danica Dudley, Tyler Ruetschle, Leanne Moore, Izzy Aspen, William Cooper, Betty Capen, Gary Goold, Janine Bulen, Stephanie Ogier, Christian Chambers, Lynn Parker Lovelady, Everett Manson and Pat Badgley.
Ive been intrigued by the idea of the American Association of University Womens new Camerata group ever since I heard about it. AAUW already had a book group, which is full, so a group of women decided to gather once a month to discuss culture, the arts and literature, with a different topic every month. They may attend one of the Live in HD at the Metropolitan Opera performances in New York City, see a film that is getting critical acclaim or, yes, read the same book and discuss it. (The operas are screened several times a year at the Storyteller Theatres Durango Stadium 9. The first opera this year will be Anna Bolena on Oct. 15.)
On Oct. 14, I finally had a chance to join them. Septembers meeting was a bit of a departure, although I guess its possible for any month to be a departure. My colleague at the Herald, Judith Reynolds, previewed part of a lecture shell be giving at 7 p.m. Thursday in Noble Hall Room 130 during the Lifelong Learning Series. The series, one of my favorites, although Im rarely able to get out of the newsroom to attend, is sponsored by the Professional Associates and the Office of the President of FLC.
Reynolds is calling her talk Revisiting OKeeffe, and its a look at Americas most famous woman artist from various angles including a midlife nervous breakdown, bouts with depression and her complicated relationship with her lover, mentor and husband, Albert Stieglitz. It was interesting to learn that several of the women in attendance hadnt really heard of OKeeffe until they moved to the Southwest.
There was a fun surprise, but I promised not to spoil it for future audiences. OKeeffe, it turned out, despite all the personal problems in her life, proved to be a woman of extraordinary resilience who felt no need to bow to the conventional expectations for a woman during her life.
(This seems like a good place to wish Reynolds the best for her birthday Tuesday.)
I had to consult Mr. Google to find out what a camerata is, and I imagine it was the brainchild of Katherine Burgess, who earned her doctorate in the humanities before starting her third career in her 50s. The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals who met in Florence during the late Renaissance. One source credited the group, which was highly influential despite a relatively short lifespan, with the creation of the musical form of opera. (Galileos father was a member of the group.)
One has to be a member of AAUW and an enthusiastic learner to join the Camerata, but it was among the most interesting couple of hours Ive spent recently. Upcoming programs include reading Bram Stokers Dracula (in honor of Halloween) and reading The Hemlock Cup by Bettany Hughes for a discussion of all things Greek, in November.
To join AAUW, so you can join the Camerata, contact Burgess, vice president for membership, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Reading Club of Durango held their annual fall potluck at the beautiful Cherry Creek home of Pat Roach on Thursday. Program Committee members Gayle Brown and Maile Kane helped organize the party.
It was gorgeous day for the drive.
The food is always good, but its the catching up after a summers worth of activities that is the most fun.
Members are looking forward to a year on the theme of An Exploration of Latin America through its Literature. In just the last few years, they have begun to read the same book for discussion, and this year two by the same author, Ingrid Betancourt, are recommended Even Silence Had an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle and Until Death Do Us Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia.
Also on the agenda are a look at some famous authors from our neighbors to the south, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende.
As the club approaches its 130th year, members are still committed to learning and improving their minds.
I hope this gorgeous weather continues next weekend, when the 17th annual Journey of Hope will take place. The 5K Family Walk/Run is kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 1 by raising money to make sure every woman can get a mammogram regardless of ability to pay. The funds are managed by the Mercy Health Foundation.
Last year, 250 participants came with great stories to tell while helping 51 women get the test they need for early detection of breast cancer.
The race was created by Joanne Spina, currently interim La Plata County manager, in memory of her mother, who died of breast cancer.
Registration starts at 8 a.m., walkers take off at 9 a.m. and runners head out at 9:15 a.m. The entry fee is $20 for adults and children younger than 12 are free (unless they want a race gift, in which case theyre $20, too.) Everything happens at the Breast Care Center entrance at Mercy Regional Medical Center.
For more information, call 764-2800 or visit www.mhffnd.org and click on the Events tab. You can register online at www.active.com.
There will be a lot of pink next month. Journey for Hope is a great chance to break out the rosy wardrobe and remind all women to take care of themselves and each other.
Enjoying glorious fall days for their anniversaries are Jack and Mimi Smith, Eric and Janelle Meyer, David and Elizabeth Collins, Ed and Suzanne Cash, Bill and Susan Terrill-Flint and Scott and Sharon Kuhn.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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