A group of physicians from Carolinas HealthCare System(CHS) made an appearance in drag for the fourth-annual Stiletto Sprint at Symphony Park on September 20. They sprinted across a strip of concrete in honor of the ovarian cancer survivors on the sidelines. Dr. Robert Higgins, Associate Director of Gynecological Oncology at CHS, sported a purple body suit, a curly brunette wig, giant teal sunglasses and a fluffy teal boa. “It’s a real privilege to care for these women with ovarian cancer,” Higgins said.

“They are so courageous and they go through a lot of pain and suffering sometimes.” Dr. James Hall, Director of Gynecological Oncology at Levine Cancer Institute, sprinted in a tiara, a frizzy teal wig and matching gloves. “As evidenced by our heels and our outfits,” he said, “we’ll do anything for the cause—to raise awareness, to provide education and to help fund research. Given the publicity that breast cancer gets, it is important to remember my new mantra for gyn cancers, ‘without ovaries, there would be no tatas!’”

The Stiletto Sprint, presented by Bissell, featured a series of sprints but started slow and steady with a Survivor Walk. The morning raised $96,000 for the Carolinas Ovarian Cancer Fund at Levine Cancer Institute.

“Part of what we do here today is to make it so that other women don’t have to go through what we have gone through,” said Vicky Neer, a survivor. She is a member of the Teal Magnolias, the CHS ovarian cancer support group that established the Stiletto Sprint in 2011 to raise funds for ovarian cancer research—with an emphasis on developing early detection capabilities—while educating others about the disease.

“There is no test, there is no pap smear version for ovarian cancer,” Neer said.  As she and other survivors at the Stiletto Sprint stressed, ovarian cancer is difficult to catch early, as there are no early-detection devices and the symptoms often go unnoticed until the cancer has progressed. Those symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating, feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency or frequency.

“I’m here because of the luck of the calendar,” said Neer, whose cancer was caught when she went to a routine gynecological appointment.

As for the monthly meetings with the Teal Magnolias, she said, “The support in that room is incredible for women who are just diagnosed, for women who are going through treatment and for women who are in remission and can provide emotional support and information for the others.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014 nearly 22,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For about 14,200 women, that diagnosis will be fatal. The disease ranks No. 5 in female cancer deaths.

Emcee Maureen O’Boyle of WBTV said, “Levine Cancer Institute is working so hard… it is our effort that in the next five years we will have what we need to make everyone a survivor of ovarian cancer.”

Rendering courtesy of Michael Brousard in Louisiana. Charity Showcase image and preceding image courtesy of Kingswood Custom Homes.

Stucco veneer. Organic. Airy. These are the descriptors Brian Hedgepeth, purchasing and estimating manager for Kingswood Custom Homes,provided for the Dream Hometaking shape in The Palisades to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Kingswood, founded in Charlotte by Peter Leeke in 1996, first built a St. Jude Charity Showhouse in 2007. The project raised about $125,000 for St. Jude through tours with entrance fees as well as fundraising events, with another showhouse raising about $280,000 in 2008. Now, in 2014, they are aiming for a fundraising amount of $750,000 with the Dream Home.

Kingswood’s creation is the first Dream Home in the Charlotte market, with recent changes in the state raffle law allowing the project to take shape. Up to 7,500 tickets will be sold for the home—valued at $450,000—for $100 per ticket.

The program “Dream Home is one of our most successful programs across the nation,” said Amy Costliow, event marketing representative for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Charlotte.

ALSAC stands for “American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities” and was founded to raise funds for the hospital as a show of support for St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, who was of Lebanese descent. Now there are nearly 40 field offices around the country raising funds for St. Jude and for Thomas’ dream: to make sure no child dies in the dawn of life. ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Charlotte focuses on fundraising, so children with deadly diseases can be treated—and, ideally, cured—for free.

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is the reason 315 homes have been built in the U.S. to raise funds for St. Jude since 1991, bringing in over $230 million for the hospital, which advances cures and ways to prevent pediatric catastrophic diseases by way of research and treatment.

Similarly, the residence’s framework that is rising in The Palisades is a low- or no-cost home. Prompted by invitations from Kingswood to get involved, local vendors are donating labor and materials. That includes Paragon Landscape Management, which is providing a full landscape installation featuring irrigation, plants, sod and beyond. “When Kingswood approached us and asked us to be a part of it, we were pretty humbled,” said Kevin Harrison, co-owner of Paragon. “ … It’s a very unique way of donating and for us as a company, we really want to be a part of the community.”

“We’re starting to create connections,” Hedgepeth said. “The idea is to raise more money. The idea is not just about Charlotte, it’s about spreading this.”Kingswood’s Dream Home is one of more than 30 homes built as part of the giveaway around the country this year. Each home has a market value that ranges from $330,000 to over $1 million, and each home is constructed through donated products and services. Following the construction comes a campaign phase, during which the completed product is showcased for about six weeks with at least 5,000 visitors touring each space during that time. The campaign leads to a television special, when media sponsors around the country announce the winners of the houses and various other prizes valued at over $1,000 like fine jewelry, furniture and vehicles.

The dream behind the Dream Home

“We like to call ourselves a hospital without walls,” Costliow said of St. Jude. Though situated in Memphis, Tenn., the hospital shares its research freely, releasing publications for patients, families, outside research and clinical staff, volunteers and donors. Featured research includes genomic analysis of brain tumors and hematological malignancies, as well as advances in next-generation sequencing and development of novel analytical methods.

“The cure rates that we’ve seen the most success with is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) which is the most common form of childhood cancer,” Costliow said. “So when the hospital opened in 1962, four percent of children with ALL survived, and today, because of the research that happens at St. Jude, 94 percent of children survive. So hospitals all over the world have implemented our treatment plans and our protocols into their hospitals.”

As a medium for sharing the hospital’s mission, the giveaway program breaks down walls between the hospital and the community. “It’s a great community awareness builder for us, because it does allow us to partner with media,” Costliow said. The Charlotte affiliate, which reaches North and South Carolina, is partnered with WBTV. “It allows us to partner with a builder and the construction industry,” she said, “which is an industry that we naturally wouldn’t just tap into. So it really is able to broaden the base of people that we touch with our message.”

The local dreamers

“The goal is not just about selling tickets to make people more aware of St. Jude,” Hedgepeth said. “There is a local chapter here. There are people locally who need your support.”

“It costs $1.9 million every day to run St. Jude,” Costliow said. Those dollars support research, medications, transportation, food, housing and beyond. Those dollars support local families like the Hagens, whose son John was diagnosed with ALL.

Hagen was treated at St. Jude initially but is now able to get his medication administered locally by way of Levine Children’s Hospital. He still goes to Memphis every couple of months to meet with doctors and get scans. “That’s a perfect example of Danny Thomas’ dream coming true,” Costliow said. “… The hospital might not be in your backyard, but our research and treatment protocols are.”

The time frame
-- Kingswood broke ground on The Palisades property in January with a special ceremony and the presence of the Hagen family. “The main thing that all of our patient families want to get across is one ‘thank you,’” Costliow said.
-- Ticket sales go live July 9 and can be bought at www.dreamhome.org, by phone or at the Dream Home location, to be announced. That day will also bring a Sell-A-Thon on WBTV live. Advice from the Charlotte St. Jude affiliate: buy early and often, as there are only 7,500 tickets!
-- Open house weekends will last from September 6 to October 9, hosted by volunteers from the Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority, which supports St. Jude across the nation. Information on St. Jude and the local vendors will be available.
-- The raffle will take place in the WBTV studio on live television on October 9. A CPA will draw the ticket from a gold raffle drum. Whoever the winners may be, in Charlotte and acrossthe U.S., Costliow said, “Their lives change and they are really impacted by this program beyond helping the kids of St. Jude.”

Local donors include:
Doggett Concrete
Moisture Loc
Locust Lumber
David Hensel Construction
West Norman Electric
Miller Contracting Services
Service Plumbing
Ferguson Enterprises
The Hogan Company
Jason Custom Wood Works
Care Free Carpet
4th Generation Weatherization
General Shale
Advanced Roofing
Pella Windows and Doors
ITC Millwork
Envision Millworks
Paragon Landscape Management

Arts & Science Council, Young Donor Society
The members of this group focus on fostering appreciation, participation and support for the arts, science, history and heritage throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
(704) 333-2272

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Young Visionaries
Members are invited to attend innovative programs and participate in community outreach projects.
(704) 353-9200

Carolinas HealthCare Foundation, Young Ambassadors
This program recognizes youths who make a significant impact on health care in our community through fundraising efforts.
(704) 355-4048

Carolinas Medical Center, Teen Volunteer Program
The program engages young people who seek to serve the patients, families and staffmembers of Carolinas Medical Center.
(704) 355-2105

Charlotte Chamber, Young Professionals
Young professionals connect through volunteer opportunities within the Chamber and the broader community.
(704) 378-1300

Charlotte Junior Chamber
Young professionals build foundational characteristics on leadership, community service and individual development.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This social group of young professionals in their 20s and 30s partners with nonprofits and local churches to help “the marginalized and oppressed” through Serve Day Events.
(980) 233-9073

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Pulse
Members host special events before KnightSounds and Pops in the Park concerts, as well as the Rush Hour Recital Series, to encourage young-professional involvement with CSO.
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Council for Children’s Rights, Young Ambassadors Group

This group of young people holds fundraising events, hosts networking opportunities and volunteers for activities in support of the right of every child in the Charlotte community to be safe, educated and healthy.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Foundation For The Carolinas, Teen Impact Fund
Foundation For The Carolinas teaches young people leadership skills for philanthropic and civic engagement, then provides ways for youths to take action on the issues that are important to them.
(704) 973-4568

Guys With Ties
Members of this nonprofit plan and host fun and exciting events to raise money and awareness for local charities.
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Habitat for Humanity, Habitat Young Professionals
Members lend a helping hand with the construction of affordable housing for low-income families, and offer networking opportunities.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hands On Charlotte, VolunTeens
Members bring awareness to community issues and highlight opportunities to grow leaders in the community.
(704) 333-7471 ext. 106

The Humane Society of Charlotte, Young Affiliated Professionals
Members of this group care about the health and welfare of animals and seek ways to support the Humane Society of Charlotte.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, Young Adult Division
This group offers young Jewish singles, couples and new area residents (ages 21 to 45 years) many ways to get involved through a broad range of social, educational and philanthropic opportunities.
(704) 944-6759

Kiwanis Uptown
These young professionals want to better their community through volunteerism and community service.
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The Mint Museum, Young Affliates of The Mint
This diverse group of young professionals promotes and supports The Mint Museum through social, educational, leadership, and fundraising activities and events.
(704) 337-2010

Opera Carolina, Bravo!
Members share an interest in exploring and enhancing their enjoyment of Charlotte’s vibrant performing arts scene.
(704) 332-7177 ext. 210

Planned Parenthood, Young Advocates
These young professionals host social events that raise both funds and awareness for Planned Parenthood’s programs and services.
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Public Relations Society of America, New Professionals
Members volunteer their time to local nonprofit organizations by strengthening their PR and marketing programs.
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Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, Young Professionals Society
Members volunteer their time, share their talents, host and attend fundraising events, and enjoy social and business networking opportunities as well as support and perform valuable services within the House.
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Samaritan’s Feet, Youth Ambassadors
The Ambassadors are students in grades 9-12 who focus on local and global communities by using their talents to serve disadvantaged children through compassion and advocacy.
(704) 341-1630

The nonprofit pairs high school students with young professionals in Charlotte to create a mentoring relationship through social events and community service.
(980) 216-8653

UNICEF’s Next Generation, Charlotte Committee
This diverse committee of young professionals is committed to furtheringUNICEF’s mission to save children around the world from dying of preventable causes.
(800) 367-5437

United Way of Central Carolinas, Young Leaders
The members of Young Leaders desire to improve the community by offering assistance to local agencies whose programs serve thousands.
(704) 371-6255

Urban League of Central Carolinas, Young Professionals Auxiliary
Members are committed to supporting the Urban League Movement through volunteerism, philanthropy and membership development.
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Urban Ministry Center, Urbanites
The young professional group is dedicated to helping the homeless of Charlotte by coordinating social and service opportunities.
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Young Black Men Leadership Alliance
The Alliance trains young black men ages 14 to 18 years to be leaders, providing college preparation, community service and mentorship opportunities, and public-speaking skills.

Young Professionals in Energy
Members seek volunteer opportunities and promote awareness for community service projects.
(704) 410-3248

YWCA Central Carolinas, 1902 Society
Members focus on volunteerism while encouraging philanthropy and increasing civic engagement around the issues of empowering women and eliminating racism.
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We polled our readers about the events and causes that inspired them this year. Congratulations to the Teal Tea Party benefiting Lydia’s Legacy for the highest number of votes!

(1) Teal Tea Party

Hosted by Lydia’s Legacy to fight gynecologic cancers, the annual tea party includes a silent auction, survivorship recognition and remembrance, health-and-wellness exhibits, raffles and live music, not to mention guests dressed in teal from hats, to socks to pocket squares.

“The tea party is a creative theme and provides an opportunity for men and women to dress up in their finest ‘high tea and teal attire’ to fellowship for a worthy cause.” - Valerie Patterson

“The event does a great job of bringing awareness to the cause with a diverse group of people.” - Yolanda Davis

“Cancer knows no color.  Thus, it is wonderful to see persons of all different hues and backgrounds at this event.” - Tiffany Fox

(2) Golfing Marathon

Golf cleats left running shoes in the dust when more than 20 members of the Club at Longview played 100 holes of golf in one day to benefit Safe Alliance. “It is a group of men taking a very public stand against domestic violence. Can you imagine playing five rounds of golf in one day – plus 10 more holes? Over the past three years, The Club at Longview has raised about $375,000 for Safe Alliance by this amazing golf marathon.”

- Bill Coy

(3) 24 Hours of Drumming

DRUMSTRONG at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square brought community members together for non-stop drumming, spontaneous Flash Drummings, rhythm parades and a Not-So-Silent Auction with more than 100 items to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. “Many kids dealing with cancer and their families were present and everybody left smiling– and dancing.”

- Scott Swimmer

(4) Instant Art Collection

Charlotte Viewpoint hosted an Instant Art Collection raffle at The Trolley Museum in South End on November 14 to give one lucky winner a collection of original art for his or her home. “Imagine having a collection of unique art from North Carolina artists to display in your home, give as gifts, or sell to the highest bidder.”

- Charlotte Viewpoint

(5) Park for Charity

During Freedom Park’s Festival in the Park this fall, Giving Tree Realty opened its parking lot for attendees, whose parking payments benefited Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. The funds specifically supported a “backpacks for needy children” community drive. “They had a group of their Broker-Associates volunteering their time,” raising over $5,000 for the cause.

- William Culp

(6) Roller Skating for Support

Charlotte Roller Girls, a locals sports organization, raised $2,000 in game proceeds throughout their season to benefit AIDS/HIV awareness through a donation to Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN). The girls also walked in RAIN’s annual AIDS walk in May to raise funds with family and friends for the cause. They presented their donation to RAIN at their last game of their undefeated 2013 fall season.

- Anonymous

(7) Mardi Gras Gala

Masked guests broke from the mold of formal events to raise funds at the Lupus Foundation’s Mardi Gras Gala, indulging in Creole cuisine, live music, a King Cake luxury raffle, a fortune teller’s skills and more. “This event theme ties in with ‘removing the mask of lupus,’” as some lupus thrivers carry a facial rash resembling a butterfly.

- Jenni Walker

(8) Christmas in July

Barbara Laughlin flung open the doors of her home and invited in the holiday spirit as well as Dress for Success Charlotte’s supporters for her Christmas in July Pop-Up Boutique. Santa Claus showed up, as did enough donations to sponsor one woman per month for the next 13 months in the Dress for Success Program. A live musician strummed Christmas tunes, faux reindeer and holiday inflatables accentuated Laughlin’s lawn, and champagne flutes were garnished with red and green beads.

- Anonymous


(9) Super Bowl Trivia

In honor of football season, Children’s Home Society (CHS) started a raffle for a prize of: two tickets to Super Bowl 2014, roundtrip air travel for two, five-star accommodations, and car/coach service. “In an effort to get the word out, we have launched a full-scale social media campaign full of Super Bowl facts and trivia to get fans excited.”

- Dillard Spring

(10) Birthday Gifting

Tammy Jewell of Jewell Treats and Portia Kee of The Kee Group celebrated their birthdays at The Vue Uptown on November 8 by giving back to Crittenton & MiraVia (formerly Room at the Inn). In lieu of birthday presents, guests donated maternity gifts, baby gifts and supplies supporting homeless pregnant women. The party theme was “modern chic with event design by The Kee Group, food by Celebrity Chef  and of course, desserts by Jewell Treats!”

- Portia Kee


Planned Parenthood reveals how they help the physical and mental health of the community.
The building on Albemarle Road is not an abortion clinic. The Charlotte Health Center for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc. (PPHS), doesn’t even offer abortion services, although staff will provide any information or referrals for those services. The nearest PPHS facilities to perform abortions are in Columbia, S.C. and Winston-Salem. “That’s not to say down the road we won’t have it,” said Marcie Shealy, Director of Development at PPHS in Charlotte. For now, the Center is staffed with one physician, two midwife nurse practitioners and five nurses. All staff members are trained to explain the Affordable Care Act and to provide corresponding resources. “We do a lot of general wellness visits,” Shealy said, particularly for those without health insurance.

The doors are open six days a week for walk-ins, picking up birth-control refills, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing. By appointment, the center acts as a community resource for other elements of female health care—breast exams, Pap tests, cervical-cancer screening and more. Men’s health care is provided in the form of testing and treatment for urinary-tract infections, testicular and prostate cancer screening, and checkups for reproductive health problems. The Center provides STD testing, treatment and vaccines, LGBTQ education and resources, and general health care—from anemia testing to diabetes and cholesterol screening. “If you call today,” Shealy said, “we will try and get you in in two days.”

PPHS is a nonprofit that seeks to improve the lives of individuals and their families through public advocacy, medical services and education. It reaches residents of Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Davidson and Greater Mecklenburg County. They receive about 400 visits each month. There are more than 750 PPHS health centers nationwide and 70 independent affiliates. The Charlotte Health Center and office is a branch of the affiliate in Raleigh. “Ninety-six percent of what we do as an affiliate is preventative care,” said Diana Warth, Director of Leadership Giving at PPHS.

While providing that care, the Health Center has no sliding scale for payments and accepts Medicaid and most major private health insurances. Teens are offered discounts. “Our services are about half as expensive as a doctor’s office,” Warth said. “They can just come in and pay out of pocket.”

Through their services, Shealy said: “We’re trying to reduce HIV and STDs in Charlotte. We’re trying to reduce pregnancy.” They’re also increasing education—and this is a service that they offer for free.The organization touches on topics including faith-based ways to approach sexuality and sex, contraception methods, STI prevention, and communication between parents and teens about sexuality. “What we think is that the young adults, teens and children want the education,” Shealy said. PPHS offers three programs in the greater Charlotte area: Teens Taking Action, Community Health Education and Are You an Askable Parent?

By the time they turn 19 years old, seven of every 10 teens have experienced sex, according to the PPHS website. Two thousand teens become pregnant in the U.S. each day. Teens Taking Action (TTA) pulls this at-risk age group together by functioning as an application-based, peer-education program that communicates information about healthy decision-making regarding relationships and sexuality. “Teens listen to other teens,” Shealy said.

Youths join by filling out an application—distributed by PPHS at their school or printed from the website—to become a Peer Educator. Then they learn from the TTA Coordinator/Community Educator, whom Shealy describes as being non-judgmental.

The participants log 90 hours in a training program at the Charlotte office, which shares a location with the Health Center, to learn how to approach their own sexuality with responsibility, as well as how to address the subject with their peers. They are trained to discuss an array of health topics including alcohol, drugs, and risky behaviors; sexual assault/informed consent; diversity; team building and advocacy. Then they speak to other youths to empower them to make informed decisions as well. Last year, TTA members shared their presentations—which are generally requested by representatives of various organizations—at Communities In Schools, CarolinaCARE, YWCA Central Carolinas, various public and charter schools, and the Latin American Coalition, among others.

For the last three years, Bernettiah Killens filled the TTA Coordinator/Community Educator role and reached an estimated 30,000 people. This year, Christian Chambers has stepped into the position. “The hope is that the teens will stay in the program until they graduate high school,” Chambers said. She asserted that TTA isn’t just focused on talking about sex and contraception: “We all have different elements to our health—mental and physical.” As an example of the psychology behind decisionmaking, she said: “Self-esteem plays into whether or not a teen would choose to be sexually active.”

The Health Center staff can legally see any community member who is at least 12 years old without parental consent. But just because they don’t need parental consent doesn’t mean they don’t want parental commitment. Through the Community Educator, PPHS offers the Are You an Askable Parent? program to strengthen the level of communication—about sex and other potentially risky or health-related behaviors—between parents and their children.“I think the parents would prefer not to talk about it,” Shealy said. But she pointed out that avoidance can result in youths getting misinformation. To counteract that problem, the program can be formatted to meet the needs of a particular group and what’s appropriate for them. It is usually carried out in three sessions, with the Community Educator meeting with the kids alone, then the parents alone and finally the kids and the parents together.

“Are You an Askable Parent? can be tailored for any age group,” Shealy said. “Middle school is where we like to start, because that’s where it needs to start.”

PPHS expands the scope of education through tabling events, health fairs and presentation sessions through the Community Health Education program. Presentation topics include healthy relationships, goal setting, self esteem, male and female anatomy, and prevention with proper condom use. “We try to show them all the options,” Shealy said. On sex education, Warth said: “We promote abstinence first, not abstinence only.” She explained that there’s a reality to relationships across the community. “People are going to do what they want to do,” she said, “but we want to make them safe.” Community Health Education emphasizes the ways in which people can be protected so they can choose when their bodies are ready for reproduction.

As they’ve hosted their programs, PPHS staff have noticed a resurgence in interest from the religious communities in the area, particularly the AME Zion community, in addition to parents, teens and LGBTQ groups. Not only does PPHS then have a chance to share their health and educational services, Shealy said: “I think bringing those communities together will also make the subject a little more approachable as opposed to taboo.”

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