Charity banquet raises hope

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are close to a cure. What you've done here tonight is love. Sheer love." -- Barbara Dooley

A banquet hall full of people can't bring back Phyllis Lariscey's mother. It can't change the fact that breast cancer also took her grandmother and aunt.


But as Lariscey was surrounded Tuesday by more than 300 people in the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, the crowd gave her hope that one day other women will not have to suffer through the same thing.

"We always need to pay more attention, always," she said. "This just shows the community is going all out for women."

Hundreds of supporters came together Tuesday for The Augusta Chronicle 's We Think Pink banquet, which celebrated cancer survivors and helped raise money for local cancer support group The Lydia Project.

Chronicle President Don Bailey presented Lydia Project Executive Director Michele Canchola with a $12,547 check as the highlight of the banquet.

The money was raised from a portion of the advertising revenue generated from the Chronicle 's Oct. 1 pink issue, which kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"A lot of the (Lydia Project) is random acts of kindess, and this truly is one of those," Canchola said.

The Lydia Project offers support to women diagnosed with cancer and helps pay cancer patients' rent or bills when they are struggling.

As of Sept. 30, Canchola said, her group received 4,788 referrals of women needing support, and all will benefit from The Chronicle 's fundraising.

Supporters at the banquet began the night with a silent auction, all proceeds of which will also benefit The Lydia Project.

After a meal, guests heard the story of cancer survivor Barbara Dooley, an author, humorist and wife of former University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley.

Like many in the audience, Dooley knows what it's like to hear a doctor say, "I have bad news."

She knows what it's like to lie in bed, sick from chemotherapy, and wake up to pull a wig over her head.

She was able to find moments of joy in the experience -- when you have cancer, "you don't have to cook or clean the kitchen ... you don't have to comb your hair or shave your legs."

"If you're lucky, you get a boob job and a tummy tuck," Dooley told a roaring audience.

Through a deep Southern drawl, Dooley recounted her cancer battle with comedy and ended by serenading the audience with the Stevie Wonder song I Just Called to Say I Love You .

Although the banquet hall couldn't change the wrath breast cancer has wreaked on millions of women, for most it gave hope.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are close to a cure," Dooley said. "What you've done here tonight is love. Sheer love."



Sat, 10/21/2017 - 02:11

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