News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 7, 2014

VIDEO: Tasting their way to a cure

First Friday Komen fundraiser puts spotlight on breast cancer

TERRE HAUTE — People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.

 “A TASTE, A TOAST, A CURE,” now in its fourth year, is a fundraiser benefiting the Wabash Valley Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. About 300 people packed the historic downtown Terre Haute location for the event, said Gwen Hicks, affiliate development director.

“This is another way to reach out to the community to let them know what we do,” Hicks said, adding that the funds raised from the event and other donations are very important to the 11 counties the organization serves.

The $3,500 raised at the fundraiser last year “helps with a lot of mammograms,” Hicks said.

The event, Hicks said, was “a great way to mix an entertaining evening with a great cause.”

One of the sponsors was Baesler’s Market.

At the event, the guests were able to sample over 60 wines from 12 different wine vendors. Wines and craft beers were paired with desserts and food such as chocolates, tiramisu, biscotti, pretzels, sandwiches and meatballs prepared by about seven local restaurant vendors. It also had a raffle and a silent auction.

One attendee enjoyed the desserts and the wines, but particularly liked the meatballs.

Nancy Nichols-Pethick of Terre Haute said she tried the meatballs from each of the vendors “so I can say with some authority that the meatballs are good,” she added with a laugh.

Nichols-Pethick was accompanied by her friend, Soulaf Abas, and they were happy to support the cause and see the Indiana Theatre.

“We’re happy to come out on First Friday and support a good cause,” Nichols-Pethick said.

Shortly after arrival at the event, other attendees Aaron Miner and Sara Rachles met with fellow medical students and later sampled wines from Monarch Beverage Company. Miner tried the Saint James Blackberry, a sweet wine, and said it was good.

Rachles tried the Thomas Schmitt Estate Riesling.

“I like it a lot,” she said.

Miner and Rachles, who just moved to Terre Haute last year, were part of a group of about 10-15 Indiana University medical students who attended the event.

In addition to trying to get to know the community, attending the event was “a good way to come out and support the community [and] support breast cancer research and awareness,” Miner said.

As first-year medical students, they emphasized the importance of supporting charities that contribute funds to cancer research.

“Without research, we don’t have any medicine to practice,” Rachles said.

Due to research, early detection and the increasing attention to breast cancer, the five year survival rate is up from 73 percent to 98 percent in the last 10 years, Hicks said.

In addition to raising funds and awareness about the work of the Komen Wabash Valley, Hicks said the event also intends to show that “you do survive breast cancer and that your dollars are going back to the community.”

Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds raised by the affiliate are used locally to fund treatment, screening and education programs, Hicks said, while 25 percent goes to research, which is “critical” in order “to find a cure.”

One breast cancer survivor at the event was thankful for the research.

Lori Campbell, who was diagnosed in 2009, served wine to attendees visiting the table of Spencer-based Owen Valley Winery. The new winery was especially invited by Komen Wabash Valley to represent Owen County, one of the counties that the affiliate serves.

The winery agreed “to help celebrate her,” said Anthony Leaderbrand of Owen Valley Winery, as he looked at Campbell.

But Campbell had a more personal reason for being at the event.

“[It’s] probably more as a thank you,” Campbell said. “If all the research hadn’t been done, mine [the cancer] would not have been caught early.”

Now, it is important to provide “support for other women that are going through it.”

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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