Gloria Gemma Foundation begins ‘Flames of Hope’ events
PROVIDENCE – As a way to celebrate the start of the 12th annual Flames of Hope weekend around the Ocean State, the president of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation on Thursday announced the foundation’s plans to see something other than hopeful flames rising in Rhode Island: a holistic care center.
Foundation President Joe Gemma invited guests at the State House on Thursday morning to share in an exciting dream. He said the vision for the holistic center would seek to improve the lives of cancer survivors and their families and build a stronger cancer survivor community by addressing mental, physical, and spiritual health simultaneously.
While the center is just a dream now, Gemma outlined plans that include comfortable and welcoming environments for all people with all cancers, friendly and welcoming entryways, relaxing and safe supports, a sleek and modern kitchen, and calm and reflective interior garden. He’s hopeful that by early 2018, they’ll be able to announce a location in Rhode Island where they will be able to give life to the Foundation’s dream.
He said his vision reveals “a space for the entire survival community to receive necessary programs and support services to heal minds, bodies, and spirits – a space that addresses the needs of survivors.” Gemma added that the Foundation has always been mindful that in order to help people navigate their
cancer journeys, they need to treat the whole person beyond the disease.
In redefining the scope of holistic care, he added, “we hope to be able to create an embracing space that will encourage healing of an entire person.”
Gemma was on hand alongside other foundation members, Rhode Island Department of Health staff, and cancer survivors and families who’ve dealt with the damaging blows of breast cancer, to kick off the “Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life” weekend. He said that every year, they gather to celebrate the many lives touched by cancer, saying that each story is one filled with perseverance, heartache, turmoil, worry, or victory.
“All here have stories of how cancer has touched our lives,” he said. “All of these stories are equally important, all combined make up a tapestry on the effects of cancer within our community.”
“With each story, we at the Foundation feel the need to offer more programs and services,” Gemma added, noting that 15.5 million cancer survivors are living in the United States. “Unfortunately, our community of cancer survivors continues to grow. To respond, Gloria Gemma will continue to expand open arms to survivors and families through many programs we offer.”
The Flames of Hope weekend begins on Saturday. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Omni Providence Hotel will be The Passport to Survivorship Expo, a free healthy living event featuring 40 vendors, guest speakers, interactive presentations, a spa lounge offering complimentary services, free flu shots, and prizes.
At 3 p.m., Providence’s Station Park will be renamed Celebration Village for an evening of remembrance, reflection, music, food, and activities. At sundown, thousands will watch the Illumination of Life Ceremony at the State House steps as the State Ballet of Rhode Island performs. Following that, 150 torchbearers will proceed to the Providence River Basin to light the season’s largest WaterFire.
Sunday morning will yet again feature local mayors and city leaders participating in the “Pink Pump Palooza,” a 50-yard run through downtown Providence while wearing festively-decorated highheeled shoes. This 10 a.m. race is to benefit the Foundation.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien has invited other Rhode Island mayors to participate in the second-annual dash and joining him are expected to be Cumberland Mayor William Murray and Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa.
“What a pleasure to be able to participate again this year in the Pink Pump Palooza,” Murray said. “This event supports the Gloria Gemma Foundation and their work. I challenge all Rhode Island government officials to join me and Mayor Grebien on Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. in Providence with your pink on.”
“The race has grown over the years and participants really get their pink on, wearing festive costumes – all to raise money for a great cause,” Foundation Executive Director Maria Gemma said.
Anne Prosser, a cancer survivor, unveils one of five panels depicting artist renderings of a new Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation facility to be built as part of the foundation’s future journey, announced Flames of Hope celebration at the Statehouse Friday morning.
Brenda DiPalo, RI Department of Health, left, speaks after being presented with a $3,880 check from the Gloria Gemma Foundation, the proceeds from the RI Department of Transportation’s Pink Ribbon License Plate to benefit the Health Department’s Women’s Cancer Screening Program during the Gloria Gemma Foundation’s Kick-Off Tea for the annual Flames of Hope Celebration of Life Weekend at the RI Statehouse Thursday morning. Joining her, from left, is presenters Joseph Gemma, President, Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Joelle Fournier, breast cancer survivor, and Maria Gemma, Executive Director, Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation.