Banquet to benefit patients



Michele Canchola knows how quickly things can change for a woman with cancer even if she has a decent job.

"And then all of a sudden they get this diagnosis. And then they have chemo treatments and other things that prevent them from working, let's say, two or three months. They can't really qualify for low-income benefits, can they?"

Canchola is the executive director of The Lydia Project, which often steps in to help with bills or rent for women with cancer. The Augusta-based group is the beneficiary of The Augusta Chronicle We Think Pink banquet Tuesday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

Noted humorist, author and radio personality Barbara Dooley, the wife of former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, will be the keynote speaker. She is also a breast cancer survivor coming up on the important milestone of her five-year anniversary scan in November.

Last year's Chronicle breast cancer awareness banquet raised $10,300 for The Lydia Project, and Canchola knows exactly where the money went.

"Every penny went to stopping evictions, stopping utility shutoffs, helping pay for prescriptions or that special bra after the mastectomy, all of that kind of thing," she said. "Every penny went to direct services, directly to the women we serve."

The event will also feature a silent auction that benefits The Lydia Project. The bidding opens at 6 p.m. and closes when the banquet begins at 7 p.m. Among the items up for bid:

  • A 20-person dinner from Sconyers Bar-B-Que;
  • A football signed by former University of Georgia and NFL star Herschel Walker
  • A new bathroom vanity countertop, installed, from Countersync
  • Numerous restaurant gift certificates

Last year's auction raised more than $4,000.

Even though the Family and Medical Leave Act can hold a job if a woman is out for an extended period of time, that doesn't help in the meantime, Canchola said.

"Wonderful act, but it doesn't give you a salary," she said. "It protects your job, but it doesn't pay your bills. If you only had two weeks' vacation in reserve, that's all you have. Lydia is there in that way. That's the difference, with the women that we help."

If you go

WHAT: Speaker and author Barbara Dooley, pictured, will be the keynote speaker for The Augusta Chronicle We Think Pink banquet.

WHEN: Tuesday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Bidding for a silent auction will be held between 6 and 7 p.m.

TICKETS: $35 per person, or a table of eight is $250. Available at The Augusta Chronicle News Building, 725 Broad St., and the Columbia County News-Times, 4272 Washington Road, Suite 3B, Evans.

OF NOTE: The presenting sponsor for the banquet is University Hospital, supported by Comcast. Proceeds benefit The Lydia Project.