Reflections on the Red Ball from the Young Leadership Council

Young Leadership Council (YLC) member Erin Jones Vattes and her husband Jimmy pose for a photo at the Red Ball last Friday in New York City, where the YLC raised over $32,000 to benefit the Cancer Support Community.

My mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in 1997 – she was 52 years old, and I was a senior in high school. I remember trying to digest the information, but simply being unable to comprehend the heaviness of it. It felt surreal. I understood that my mom was sick and it was bad, but it couldn’t be that bad, right?  At that time in my life, only a couple of friends’ grandparents had been diagnosed with cancer, or it happened to people in some sappy movies; it couldn’t be happening to my mom. It wasn’t even a comprehendible possibility to me that my mother would pass away just four years later.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my mother was given six months to live; yet she fought hard and survived for four more years. Those years were filled with tough times for her and our family – we were all trying to make sense of what was happening, and towards the end, we were just really terrified. I could not imagine what my mother was enduring, but I know without a doubt that she would have loved the opportunity to be a part of something like the Cancer Support Community. CSC does so much to provide education, counseling, support, and a warm sense of community for people battling cancer and their families and friends. They make sure that no one faces cancer alone. She would have loved to be a part of something that united her with other people battling cancer, and to find kindred spirits to laugh and cry with during her battle.

What was especially frustrating for me was the feeling of immense helplessness that I experienced. Years later, I joined the Young Leadership Council of the Cancer Support Community. Now, my ongoing work with CSC has enabled me to feel a little bit helpful!  I couldn’t make my mother’s cancer go away and I miss her every day, but I can help other people fight cancer and let them know that they are supported in their journey. And I know it sounds corny, but I know my mom would be proud of me.

I oftentimes feel frustrated by the stark reality that cancer care is expensive, and that many people cannot afford the care and support that they need and deserve.  It is so important to me, that the Cancer Support Community provides their services FREE OF CHARGE.  CSC is able to provide these much-needed services at no cost, because of the hard work and dedication of its generous donors, partners, and friends – especially the Young Leadership Council.

On Friday evening, October 19th, the Young Leadership Council (YLC) held its annual benefit event – the Red Ball – at Crimson in New York City. The YLC was joined by Honorary Chairs David Alan Basche, Actor, Alysia Reiner, Actress and Filmmaker, and Lindsay Mendez, Broadway Performer. Over 200 guests enjoyed performances by Banned from the Zoo and Ryan Oakes, Conjuror, while they danced and shopped the custom-designed CSC jewelry by John Wind Maximal Art, CSC bow ties by Bow Tie Cause, and an amazing array of raffle and silent auction items. The event raised over $32,000 to support the work of the Cancer Support Community, so that no one faces cancer alone.

To see photos from the Red Ball, visit our Facebook page.

About Young Leadership Council

The mission of the Young Leadership Council (YLC), a group of young professionals, is to represent a new generation of leaders who are advancing the cause of social and emotional support for people living with cancer by raising awareness and organizing philanthropic initiatives to benefit the Cancer Support Community. The YLC is tasked with ensuring that the support for the Cancer Support Community continues. It was established in 2004 by GCWW Board Member Evan Berkley, who lost his father to cancer at age 19 and subsequently created the Be a Buddy Foundation to improve the lives of people living with cancer. YLC members work in the fields of film, television, marketing, entertainment law, corporate law, finance, and publishing. Since the group's inaugural event in September 2005, the YLC has successfully raised over $850,000 and brought the mission of Gilda's Club, and now the Cancer Support Community, to hundreds of new friends.

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