Shout Out To The Pink Tie Ball 2019 Committee

February 2, 2019 will be the fifth year of joining forces with some of the most amazing women in Southwest Michigan to coordinate and manage one of the area’s elegant galas: Pink Tie Ball. These women have become such dear friends to me and one of my center Tribes. Our friendships flourished following one of our darkest days: the unexpected passing of our beloved leader and mentor. Since that time we continue to rely on one another’s strength to gain support for cancer research and care in our community. They are ladies I know I can turn to for advice, hugs, and lots of laughter.

With our event happening in a month’s time, I wanted to give a little shout out to these beautiful women. We have been working diligently to make Pink Tie Ball 2019 the best yet, and I am in awe of every single member of this committee. They deserve so much praise for all their hard work. And 2019’s event is sure to be just as amazing as they are because they’ve put so much of themselves into planning it…

The Pink Tie Ball began in 2015 and has transitioned throughout the past years. Members have come and gone, venues have changed, and beneficiaries have shifted. However, one key factor remains the same: the spirit of the Committee. The Committee continues to be a group of remarkable women focused on supporting the fighters, celebrating the survivors, and honoring the taken of all cancer variants within the Southwest Michigan community. These women came together not only for a worthy cause, but also to continue the legacy of the person who brought them all together: Denise Bohn.

Denise Bohn was the Development Director for Susan G. Komen Southwest Michigan. Beginning in 2015, Denise led the original Pink Tie Ball Committee through two years of growth which blossomed into an amazing event focused on raising breast health awareness and to provide education, screening, and diagnostics in our community. In 2017, the Committee chose to continue the event and dedicated their talents to keeping the Ball local and continuing Denise’s mission. We miss Denise terribly, but the opportunity to honor her with this gala urges us forward to keep fighting for all those effected by cancer in Southwest Michigan.

With the advice and encouragement of Susan G. Komen Michigan, the Pink Tie Ball Committee decided to become its own entity in 2018. Though our mission remains the same, our support and outreach has expanded past raising awareness of breast cancer to raising awareness and support for all forms of this cruel disease. Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide, and our community is no exception. For Pink Tie Ball 2019, it is our hope to support two amazing organizations, Susan G. Komen Michigan and Pennies From Heaven5, where funds raised will remain local.

It is the Pink Tie Ball Committee’s promise that 100% of funds raised at the 2019 Pink Tie Ball will go towards efforts to raise awareness of cancer and support cancer patients within Southwest Michigan. For Pink Tie Ball 2019, we are expanding our beneficiaries and plan to remain transparent with our friends and sponsors.

We have been working diligently with Susan G Komen of Michigan to ensure our PTB funds stay local in Southwest Michigan. In 2019, $5000 worth of funds raised will go towards creating 25 treatment bags including (but not limited to) the following: a jersey sweatshirt, a handmade blanket, a pillow, a stainless steel water bottle, a journal, adult coloring books, socks, a cookbook from an oncology dietitian, gas cards and a post-surgical fitted garment to wear home from the hospital after breast surgery. This treatment bag comes alongside screenings, diagnostics and education through Komen’s wide array of resources. Funds will also be used towards providing mammogram services for 25 patients located in Southwest Michigan.

$1000 of funds will be utilized for Pink Tie Ball event costs and expenses, as well as placed in preparation for 2020 Pink Tie Ball.

All remaining funds raised will be granted to our new partner, Pennies From Heaven5. Pennies From Heaven5 is a local non profit organization that offers financial assistance to young adults ages 21 to 30 for their living expenses and to provide comfort during their battles with cancer. Representatives from Pennies From Heaven5 have been working diligently with the Pink Tie Ball Committee to ensure this year’s event is the best Ball to date.

As with previous years, Pink Tie Ball will be an elegant evening full of food and drink, dancing, live entertainment, a silent auction and door prizes. Pat Moody will be Emcee for the night’s program, Jon Krugh of Center Line Music will have the dance floor poppin’, and Ben Pancoast will be returning with his always-popular Photo Booth. New to 2019, the evening entertainment will be a fashion show supporting those going through cancer treatments as well as celebrating those strong survivors among us. Studio I Boutique is the presenting sponsor for this “stylin’ against cancer” runway spectacular in this year’s program.

I am blessed to be a member of this 2019 Committee and have loved working beside so many others throughout the past five years. The Pink Tie Ball continues to grow in support and funds raised each year, and I am excited to see what we raise at this year’s gala. To my fellow Committee members, you are SO appreciated by so many and you are all such inspiration to me. Thank you for being my Tribe members, friends, and role models.

Much love,

Share Blog: Love What Matters

I am blessed to call some amazing women my closest friends. Playing off my last post on what and who is my Tribe, I felt it necessary to share this raw and inspiring story from one of my Pink Ladies, Katie, as it provides a beautiful testimony as to the characters of those in my Tribe.

Katie is one of those rare women who can take the worst situation and find the gem in its midst. Life happens to us all, and I know this girl has had a lot of lemons thrown her way lately. Yet having survived what some may say is the hardest battle of all — the battle for your own life — Katie persists with a smile on her face and overwhelming love in her heart. No matter what she is going through in her personal life, she makes time to check in on those she loves and be available for a chat or hug. For someone who could very easily choose to be selfish and focus on her own struggles, Katie will not allow anyone to feel sadness and pain alone. She is the very definition of a servant heart.

As I read through her inspiring testimony for the 65,245,897th time, I marvel at the determined, persistent, and optimistic woman I have in my Tribe. I could not be more humbled to have Katie call me her friend in return.

Please read her inspiring story here. (This story was originally submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Hess.

I love you, Katie, and all that you symbolize — you are more than my friend, you are a role model.

I Was Taught Strength

I’ve always known what strength a woman can have. I have a strong mother and I have strong grandmothers. I grew up learning from strong female teachers and have been blessed with strong female friends. They have all been role models to me, showing me the different forms strength can take, giving me a goal to set since I was only a toddler.

I had been a good little student with notebook and pen in hand, jotting notes on what strength looked like, yet with all the strong women I watched I did not possess genuine strength myself. I was a caterpillar in a cocoon, waiting for that all-consuming metamorphosis which would truly teach what strength was to me.

It was not until April 19, 2016 that I was taught what strength I carried myself.

Before 2016 I thought I was strong. I had been through relationship heartbreak and survived. I had suffered a bruised ego, a bruised body, and bruised self-esteem countless times and lived to tell the tales. Each is a terrible pain in its own right, yes?

Hardly.

In April 2016 I was taught what real pain feels like. Not just the pain of being scraped or dumped or cheated on or isolated.

In April 2016, I experienced extreme heartache. The type of heartache that can’t be repaired with a drunken text, a girls’ night out, a Band-aid, or months of vacation and/or self-care. I experienced the type of heartache where the person you lose is never coming back.

That person was beautiful. She was breathtaking. Someone that deserved to live a long, happy life free of hurt. But that person was ripped away from this world. She didn’t get enough time with her family, her friends, her community. She didn’t get to say everything she should have. Didn’t do everything she was meant to have done.

My strength stirred the day I found out the news — and every day since. I questioned myself. I questioned the meaning of Life and the purpose people play in it. I questioned God.

Because the entire situation was so incredibly unfair.

But God doesn’t play favorites.

My strength rippled deep in my heart and became a crashing wave. And before long the crash shifted to a roar as my eyes opened to how the world turns. It wasn’t the shadowed world where pain is felt then decreases with time. Instead, the world could be dark and dreary, slamming grief on a daily basis.

Yet here I am. I’m still breathing.

Death made me strong. Death gave my strength life.

I had never been forced to face Death before. So abrupt, so impacting. And it was either survive or drown.

So I decided to swim and I grew stronger with every stroke.

A strength that pushed me to persevere for a cause so dear to my friend. A strength that urged me to grow relationships with others close to her — women I now consider some of my closest friends. A strength that has grown into an adaptable hurricane and made me capable of weathering an unpredictable and uncontrollable Life. A strength that reminds me daily that Life is so worth the ride. A strength that carries me through all of the ups and downs cast my way.

Of course, I’m not done crying. Sometimes the tears arrive when I run across her picture or hear Uptown Funk play on the radio. Sometimes I cry when I feel overwhelmed planning an event or I see a flash of the color pink. Sometimes I cry when I catch a glimpse of blonde hair while on the elliptical or drink a sweet white wine. And the tears show up at this time of year in heavy force.

But those tears don’t make me weak. They make me strong. They make me a survivor.

I’m strong because I handled the biggest loss imaginable and I know what it feels like to miss someone that I can’t reach out to. I’m strong because I didn’t let Death turn me into a cynic. I understand Life’s insecurities and Life’s unfairness better now. I understand what it takes to get through pain and grief, along with a bit of prayer and the love and support of my friends and family.

Nothing can break me now.

Yes, my strength can ebb and flow, but like the mighty ocean it is ever-present. My strength refreshes my life, my dreams, and my goals. There is no pain greater than losing someone you love, but I now know I can overcome even that pain.

Thank you for being a mentor, role model, friend, and one of my biggest fans, Denise. I miss you every day…

But I miss you a little extra today.

Still Finding Difficulty in Goodbye

On February 11th I was a part of the Pink Tie Ball for the third year in a row. The Pink Tie Ball is a fundraising event that supports Susan G. Komen of Michigan. The event was the thought-child of Denise, my friend and mentor mentioned in a few posts early 2016. Out of a selfish act, Denise was no longer in our lives to lead the event to its usual success, but the committee decided to join forces, add a few new members, and provide the community with an awesome evening to honor the memory that was Denise Bohn.

The ball is something I have looked forward to in the past. It’s a night to get all dressed up (because what woman doesn’t want to don a gown and get her hair down to relive her prom days?) and dance the night away all in the name of charity. This year, though, I was on the fence with my feelings.

Part of me couldn’t wait to regain my role as head decorator for the event. I also was excited to take on the task to lead the organization of the event — seating chart, table placements, room setup, etc. I wanted to go above and beyond to make my friend’s memory proud.

Another part of me wished I could walk away. The pain was still too fresh, the heartache still too vivid. I almost said no.

Almost.

The former won out.

It has been a few days now since the event and I’m not sure if I made the right decision. My heart hurts so much. I’ve cried almost every night since that Saturday and I don’t see the fountain drying any time soon…

Wilbur and I left the event following dinner. The program, though understandably emotional, was too much. What was meant to be a half hour of some research on breast cancer, a survivor’s inspirational story, and a little homage to Denise turned into an hour of statistical slides, heartbreaking “tear-fest” (I do not mean this in a critical manner), and two videos that only cemented the knowledge of how awesome Denise truly was and how much this community misses her presence. By the time the program finally ended, every Kleenex bag I placed at each of the 238 table seats was opened and used. I was visibly shaking. I could feel myself eyeing the door, wanting to flee rather than sit in a room that held so many memories. Even the food, now cold, couldn’t calm me.

I was absolutely and utterly emotionally drained.

Fortunately, Wilbur kept mentioning that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to leave.

I remember glancing into the dance hall, seeing members of the committee laughing and having fun. I swallowed and nodded my head. And so, we left.

So now I’ll ask you, is it lame for me to say that walking out that door gave me more closure than the event as a whole? Perhaps its because I was so horrified with how I handled the evening, that walking out gave me some peace that my bad vibes were no longer filling a space that should be of love and warmth. Perhaps its because I knew deep down I shouldn’t have been a part of the committee to begin with, because I’ve still to find my own version of goodbye to Denise.

I still do not feel complete closure, and I’m starting to think I never will. I’m that type of person who analyzes and uses logic in most situations. I believe there is always a reason for something to occur.

In this situation, though, I see no reason for Denise to be gone. I don’t understand the point in it all.

I’m wrestling with these thoughts a lot this month, and thought if I shared my pain and confusion, someone might stumble upon this post and be able to give me some pointers. I’m all ears on ways to finally say goodbye to my friend and move forward from her loss…

In Memory of Denise

It is hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.

Today the world lost a special person, my dear friend Denise. We’d been friends since the day we met, only two years ago at a planning meeting for Little Black Dress. I didn’t know then what kind of impression she would make on my life and it is with a very heavy heart that I grieve her loss.

Denise was the type of person who was adored by everyone she met. She had a contagious smile, a loving heart, a fighter’s strength, and a glorious soul. She was never more than a phone call away, even with her crazy schedule of juggling motherhood, work, and being a breast cancer awareness advocate. There is no way to fully express her impact in the community and in my own life.

This past Friday I was blessed to have spent time with Denise over one of our shared passions — wine. During those few hours we shared together, Denise offered me a compliment on how inspired she was with all my “running success”. Thinking back, I have a heavy heart that I was not able to verbally share with her how inspirational she has been in my life and thank her for the many moments of wisdom and advice she has offered me.

12718035_10154809080882222_2521082856350487242_n

This is something I will always regret, not telling her that she was more than just a good friend to me, but also a mentor. Every moment spent with her urged me to be a better person. As one of the numerous sentiments said on her Facebook profile, “This vibrant woman taught me so much about living life, caring for one’s self, and caring for others.” This says it simply and clearly; there are few people who made a better role model than Denise.

A breast cancer survivor and advocate, Denise was one of the strongest women I have ever met. She put her entire heart into every aspect of her life. From planning social events to kick cancer’s butt to sharing her infectious laugh on the local radio morning show to being an awesome mother to her three kids, Denise was a superstar. She was the very definition of “inspiration”.

Only yesterday I received an email from Denise that not only showed her energy and fun-loving spirit, but also demonstrated one of her passions: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact I had breast cancer…not one single day. (even though I was diagnosed 8 years ago) That’s probably because despite the fact you can beat the disease, it leaves behind scars, not only on your body but your mind.  Thinking about my cancer journey daily isn’t bad, it’s just become part of the routine…like brushing your teeth, putting on perfume and picking out what bad-ass pair of shoes you want to wear that day to go take on the world!” The tragedy of her loss has sent shock waves throughout the entire Michiana community.

For someone who fought so hard to make sure she was present to watch her children grow up, and in turn fought for others to also have that same opportunity, her death is crushingly depressing. It is confusing. And it is unfair.

Untitled

As Denise’s family and friends begin their journeys of grief, its difficult to know how to move forward. It’s difficult to imagine a world without this warrior in it. There will always be a crater in our lives where Denise once stood, but perhaps with thoughts of her laughter and good works we may attempt to find understanding in this stunning event.

Even with the imminent sadness, it is heartwarming to know that the world is a better place having known Denise. So many lives were touched by this wonderful woman, and I hope her passionate work fighting against cancer is carried on by those she leaves behind. Many prayers to her friends, family, and especially her children during this hard time.

Toasting a sweet white in your name, my friend. You will truly be missed.

12185524_1030577323629500_8000481204321353133_o