Written by: Betty Boyd
Tradition. Hope. Gratitude. This is what the White Linen and Wine annual fundraiser for the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation embodies. The Foundation was established in 2006 to provide support for bold, innovative cancer research, education and patient assistance.
The White Linen and Wine event is now in its 4th year and the past honoree’s widows or other family members have kindly agreed to be interviewed for their perspective on the tradition of this fundraiser, the honoring of their loved one and what this special event means to them. All of the honoree’s lives were lost too soon. Each of them gave of their time and talents to their families, church and community.
Mrs. Wilma Steele, who lost her husband, Joe, in 2009, states that she “likes the fundraiser very much. You do not know what is really going on out there and it helps to raise awareness of how much is needed to support cancer research and treatment.” Mrs. Steele and her husband were the first people to donate to the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation, even while it was still being formed and established. Mrs. Steele goes on to say that her husband was “very courageous and fought hard for his family.” Mrs. Wilma Steele has her highest gratitude to Dr. Schreeder and says “he was so great with us and he treats you like a human being.” Mrs. Steele sums up that “it was a blessing to our family for our extra four years and it brought our family much closer together and we are totally grateful to Dr. Schreeder.”
Mrs. Cheri Rogers, who lost her son, Brian, in 2010, said that this fundraiser is “very nice” in that it helps raise money to fund treatments of cancer. Ms. Rogers indicated that her son was “such an example to others”, by working with other cancer patients while dealing with is own cancer fight. “Brian got his family prepared for his own eventuality”. Ms. Cheri Rogers, says of what this special event meant to her, it was a “huge honor to Brian.”
Mrs. Shirley Brown, who lost her husband, Russell, in 2010, said “the concept perpetuates the legacy of the person being honored,” and is “a way to ensure research.” Mrs. Brown also indicated that the event “honored his memory, legacy and contributions to the community.” The White Linen and Wine event “made me feel like giving back to a wonderful cause.”
Mrs. Jill Stewart, who lost her husband, Jack, in 2009, says “the monies raised stay in the local community which allows for cancer research, patient assistance for treatment and transportation costs and many benefits.” Mrs. Stewart goes on to say, “I’m thankful for the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation and their dedication to find a cure, so hopefully in the future less people are faced with cancer.” Mrs. Jill Stewart indicates about the honoring of her husband, “it means keeping Jack’s memories alive” and she was “humbled” when she got the call from Russel Hill Cancer Foundation stating they wanted to honor Jack at the 2011 event.
Mrs. Rhonda Mitchell, who lost her husband, Jim, in 2009, says he was the first recipient of this honor. Mrs. Mitchell states “it benefits local organizations and people and it makes it special to me.” Her husband got involved in the first White Linen and Wine event when Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation asked him for help with planning the wine tasting. Jim was the owner of the Wine Cellar and “it was a good cause and he offered to help in any way he could.” Mrs. Rhonda Mitchell says the “honor was very special to me” and “this honor in his name helped to raise quite a bit of money in support of this event.”
The Russel Hill Cancer Foundation is unique because every dollar donated to the Foundation stays in the area. These widows and family members are grateful for the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation. The honoring of each of the men at the Annual White Linen and Wine event continues their legacy and their dedication to each of their families, church and community. Most of all, it makes us all aware of how cancer affects all people and how much progress can be attained by supporting such an important cause as the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation.