The Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition hosted its third annual Black & White Cocktail Party fundraiser on Oct. 4 at EGP Gastropub in Oceanside, with 460 people in attendance. The event is the coalition’s largest annual fundraiser, which brought in an estimated $35,000 this year.
“All of the proceeds from our fundraising events go to our recipients,” said Peg McDonald, co-president of the coalition, “who are women and men that have been diagnosed with breast cancer.”
McDonald and co-president Erin O’Sullivan formed the RVC Breast Cancer Coalition in January 2017 as a way to support breast cancer patients within the community. Services provided help alleviate both the financial and emotional stress that come with a diagnosis.
“Erin and I have both lost loved ones to cancer, as so many people have,” McDonald said. “We spent a lot of time together watching our boys play basketball and shared many conversations. We decided Rockville Centre was in need of a support group and that’s where we started.”
Now, however, it’s much more than a support group. The mission is to provide education and programs to help “empower” those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer so they can make “informed decisions regarding their treatment.” The all-volunteer organization offers its recipients access to care counselors — breast cancer survivors who give confidential advice — and provides outreach services that include meal delivery, child care, house cleaning, transportation and wellness services, as well as financial assistance if needed.
“I don’t think either of us knew how rapidly we would grow,” McDonald said.
Though founded in Rockville Centre, the coalition supports people undergoing treatment in surrounding towns as well.
“The coalition is so important to the community,” McDonald said. “When a woman or man is diagnosed, their world is upside down. They need all the support they can get. We want to be the coalition that provides that support.”
Judging by the numbers, the community wants the coalition to continue providing such help. This year’s cocktail party sold out and attracted even more guests than last year.
Tim O’Hagan, EGP Oceanside owner, said that every year for the last three events, they closed the restaurant to the public at about 3 p.m. and are happy to do it. “It keeps getting better and better every year,” O’Hagan said. “The weather was terrible this year, but that didn’t stop people from arriving in droves.”
O’Hagan said he appreciates the work the coalition does and is impressed by how this party brings people together for a good cause.
“Any time we have a chance to get involved in something like this to support the community,” O’Hagan said, “it’s a really good feeling.”
For more information about the coalition, visit rvcbcc.org.