Communication Connection

Friends of Com Newsletter

Events and Happenings

Rock For A Cure: A Fundraiser for Hope

Friday, February 21, 2014

By: Christine Schulze

For Cortney Aherron, October 18th wasn't just another Friday night. It was the night of Rock For A Cure, a breast cancer benefit that she had been planning for the last four months. As one of the three students on the Rock For A Cure committee, this was no small task. The speakers had been found, the prizes had been donated, and the band had been booked, but as any public relations student knows, there was no telling how the event would turn out.

This year was the seventh annual Rock For A Cure fundraiser, benefitting the Pink Ribbon Project. When Rock For A Cure began in 2007, the Communication Studies Society wanted to do a fundraiser with The Schoolboys, a band of professors from the Communication Studies Department. The executive board planned to hold the fundraiser in October, so they decided to support breast cancer. The community outreach chair Blair Fetner was interning at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. As part of her internship, she did a lot of public relations work for the Pink Ribbon Project in Wilmington, so they already had a connection. It seemed like a natural fit, so they pursued a partnership with the breast cancer charity.

Jennifer Chin has been working with the charity for a while now. She was the advisor for the Communication Studies Society when Rock For A Cure first began, so she had seen her fair share of breast cancer events. But along with Aherron, Chin was also apprehensive the night of the benefit. As a senior lecturer at UNCW and the instructor of the three event coordinators' directed individual study (DIS), it was important to her to teach them that a lot of event planning is problem solving.

"You can be the perfect planner but something may still come up that changes everything," she said.

This year, it was the rain. Rock For A Cure was held on the rooftop of the Reel Café, which usually has a nice view of the Cape Fear River. However, the threat of precipitation loomed over everyone's heads as they prepared for the event. When the skies finally did open up, it didn't seem like a good omen. The restaurant had originally promised use of their second floor if it rained, but they had booked a comedy club for that night instead. Chin and the event coordinators had no choice but to make the best of the situation.

"We had to work quickly to move stuff out of the rain, wait it out, and then set back up for guests' arrival without anyone knowing there was ever an issue," said Aherron.

No one suspected a thing. Guests started arriving without a clue that anything had been amiss a mere forty-five minutes earlier. Kelsey Raskob, a senior at UNCW, thoroughly enjoyed the event despite the gloomy weather.

"It was the first time I attended, so I didn't know what to expect," she said, "But the atmosphere was awesome, the music was great, and I enjoyed mingling with all my classmates and professors."

But the night wasn't just about talking and laughing with peers. The entire event had been leading up to the featured speaker: Christine King, a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, but had beaten the disease and was excited to speak about her experience. Her presence at the event was especially fitting, as she was a beneficiary of the Pink Ribbon Project.

The charity's mission is to help women with the costs of mammography screenings and give care bags to women battling breast cancer. These care bags contain a satin pillowcase, a journal, a booklet about hope, and other encouraging gifts.

"We have had survivors call and send us letters saying that our care bags felt like a hug," said Jaime Thompson, Special Events Officer at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. "We operate under the motto 'Until There's a Cure, There's Comfort'."

King was a recipient of one of these care bags. For her, the booklet about hope, which was written by another cancer survivor, was especially inspiring.

"I read it so many times when I was discouraged," she said. "I passed it on to other women battling cancer to give them hope as well."

King also shared that she thought having breast cancer made her stronger and encouraged her to learn new things about herself. She said that once you've had cancer, it's always in the back of your mind that it might come back. But the Pink Ribbon Project helped her to get through the taxing ordeal and realize that it is more important to treasure every day.

When the night was all done and over with, the Communication Studies Society had raised over $5,200 for the Pink Ribbon Project, bringing their grand donation total of the past seven years to over $27,200. According to the American Cancer Society, about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2013, so that money will go to good use providing care bags for women throughout Wilmington.

"This year was the second highest total of the seven years we've been doing Rock For A Cure," Chin said. "Considering the rain and everything, I thought that was really good."

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