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‘Dazzle Me Pink’: Annual purse auction raises funds for women fighting breast cancer

By Staff | Nov 1, 2019

Tara Morgan peruses some of the purses donated for the Pink Purse Auction hosted by the Jefferson County CEOS on Sunday. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — The Jefferson County CEOS filled the ballroom at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races for the 13th Annual Pink Luncheon and Purse Auction on Sunday, to support breast cancer awareness. The event was themed “Dazzle Me Pink” to reflect the association of the color pink with breast cancer awareness, since the event proceeds raised were donated to the West Virginia Breast and Service Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.

The event included a buffet lunch, a silent auction featuring more than 60 items and a live auction of 27 purses and other goods, which was led by auctioneer Wesley Ware.

“Everything is donated,” said event chair Debbie Viands. “We don’t buy anything, but we put in a lot of work on it. For the last couple of years, we have over 600 purses donated each year.”

Those purses are then offered for sale prices ranging from $5 to $25.

Crissy Butynski and Laura VanZomeren, both of Harpers Ferry, took advantage of the great bargains and filled several shopping bags with purses before the luncheon began.

“These are some good bargains to share with others as gifts, and it’s a wonderful cause,” Butynski said. “It’s good to spend money on something that actually makes a difference.”

Prior to the auction, attendees heard from guest speaker Dr. Robert Jones, who not only shared breast cancer facts and how to potentially detect a problem early, but also his own story of how he lost his mother to the disease.

“[Breast cancer] is the leading cause of cancer death in women in the world, and second in the United States,” he said, mentioning early detection has decreased the mortality rate from cancer. “Fifteen percent of women are diagnosed, not through mammograms, but through finding something in a self-breast exam.”

Jones then shared his feelings on hormone treatments received by those who have been or are being treated for cancer.

“My personal feeling is, try to stay on them as long as possible,” Jones said.

Studies have shown cancer patients do not receive benefit taking hormone therapy past the five year mark; however, Jones’ personal story of his mother has led to his stance on continuing the therapy beyond that mark.

“My mom was on tamoxifen for seven years. They decided to stop the hormone therapy and nine months later the symptoms returned and doctors found cancer in her lung cavity. I truly believe if she had stayed on therapy she would have remained cancer free,” Jones said. “I can’t stress enough how important self-exams are,” Jones said. “If you find something unusual for you, have it checked out. Denial is bad and it can turn into something nasty.”

While a final tally of the funds raised Saturday was not immediately available, organizers hoped the amount exceeded last year’s, which would help them bypass raising $90,000 over the lifetime of the fundraiser.

“That’s our goal for this year,” Viands said. “That would be $13,000 for this year, and I think we can do that.”