The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s Flames of Hope, which expanded to a three-day event, brought tens of thousands to downtown Providence this past weekend.
The event, in its sixth year, was created to promote breast cancer awareness and education and to honor people living with breast cancer. It has grown into one of the largest awareness events in the Northeast with three inspirational days of education, support and hope, with one of the highlights of the weekend being the moving Illuminations of Life Ceremony at Waterfire. The theme “Celebrating the Family” was evident in all of the weekend’s activities. The night also was the final Waterfire for the season.
"With the banks closed on Monday, we are unable to give a full count of dollars raised at this time," Anthony Gemma said Monday. Last year the Flames of Hopes event raised approximately $250,000.
The weekend included a Passport to Survivorship conference on Friday headlining Loretta LaRoche and Dr. Alice Domar, the Flames of Hope Celebration village, which included products, clothing, art, jewelry and more, and the Illumination Ceremony, which included a performance by the Rhode Island Ballet and American Idol top 40 contestant Jimmie Allen.
The Celebration Village at Station Park, across from Providence Place Mall, included the United Healthcare Zone with merchants and a 5K-registration area; a Healing Garden Pavilion; and an Education & Wellness Pavilion presented by RI Medical Imaging with breast health sessions, family friendly cooking demos, and fitness exhibitions. The Kids & Family Block Party, presented by Storage America, was full of family fun activities.
Saturday evening’s Pink Party, presented by ARS, featured the Edwards Twins and food and beverage with limited tickets available for $50.
The Illuminations of Life Ceremony and the lighting of the Flames of Hope torches and the evening’s Waterfire was a reflective ceremony of music, a performance by the RI State Ballet, and several speakers. The evening was hosted by NBC10’s Barbara Morse Silva, who led the way for survivors, friends and family as they carried lit torches from the State House to the Waterfire basin to light the evening’s Waterfire. The evening continued with exhibits and activities in Illumination Village, including a grand breaking of boards with Mastery Martial Arts of Johnston, sponsored by TD Bank. Citadel Communications and WPRO-AM also had a live broadcast and interview sponsors, survivors and others throughout the evening.
Funds raised throughout the day and by torch sponsors will support the Hope Bus, a mobile RV the Gloria Gemma Foundation uses to provide awareness and education programs. The Hope Bus travels the state reaching out to groups, companies, schools and the community.
Concluding the weekend of events, the 5K Run, Walk & Pet Walk, sponsored by Dr. Ellen Frankel and Rejuvaderm MediSpa, was held on Sunday morning with thousands of people running, walking and even walking their pets.
For an additional fee, interested participants had access to the Pink Glove Service tent, an area sponsored by TD Bank that includes lockers, food, drinks and other amenities. There were fundraising awards, medals for each division and special contests for pinked out dogs. More than 3,500 participants attended the 5K. Proceeds of the 5K will support the Star Program, a statewide effort to develop rehabilitation protocols and programs for all cancer patients and a program of Oncology Rehab Partners, whose mission is to help cancer survivors function at the highest level possible.
Flames of Hope weekend, it is estimated, brought together 110,000 people dedicated to the mission of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to raise breast cancer awareness, increase breast health education, and generate funding for critical breast health programs that are in desperate need of being brought to fruition. For more information on the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, call 401-861-HERO (4376).