Mall, Komen Foun­da­tion form part­ner­ship

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mus­tangMan48 on Twit­ter

UP­PER ME­RION» Patti Ga­ha­gan loves to oc­ca­sion­ally meet friends for lunch at King of Prus­sia Mall, but by her own ad­mis­sion, she doesn’t do a lot of shop­ping when she’s there.

That all changed on Saturday when the Wil­low Grove res­i­dent, as the mall’s guest of honor, got to en­gage in some se­ri­ous shop­ping on the mall’s dime.

Thanks to King of Prus­sia Mall’s part­ner­ship with the Philadelphia chap­ter of Su­san G. Komen Foun­da­tion, the breast cancer sur­vivor was treated to a Be More Than Pink shop­ping spree with a $250 gift card in cel­e­bra­tion of her “strength, good­will and con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­nity.”

Ga­ha­gan was just 31 years old when she found a lump in her breast and em­barked on her brave jour­ney through chemo­ther­apy, ra­di­a­tion, a mas­tec­tomy and, ul­ti­mately, re­con­struc­tive surgery.

Through all of that, she found the time to start a sup­port group, Young Breast Friends, meet­ing with and men­tor­ing other young women to let them know they were not alone in what they were going through.

“I had gone to one sup­port group and it was mostly older women and it just wasn’t for me,” Ga­ha­gan re­called. “So then the Young Breast Friends was formed. I wasn’t ac­tu­ally the per­son who was sup­posed to run it — I was still going through my treat­ments and get­ting my own emo­tions and thoughts in con­trol — but I quickly took over. I just had a knack for help­ing young women get past their fear and help­ing them take con­trol of their lives and move for­ward from their di­ag­no­sis … and be­ing bet­ter for it.”

The group has about 75 mem­bers, largely though Face­book, ex­plained Ga­ha­gan, who mar­ried her hus­band, Mike, about a year and a half ago.

“I know about 45 of them per­son­ally. A lot of them don’t come to meet­ings. They just want the on­line sup­port. We get any­where from five to 12 peo­ple at our meet­ings,” she noted.

The group meets the third Thursday of the month at 45 Sec­ond Street Pike, Southamp­ton. To reg­is­ter, visit www.the­heal­ing­con­scious­ness.com.

Ga­ha­gan said she had a lot of fun de­cid­ing where to spend her new­found money Saturday.

“I loved it. It was such an un­ex­pected ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s such a beau­ti­ful mall. We went to so many stores, like H&M and White House Black Market, where I bought a cou­ple of pairs of jeans and blouses,” she said.

Al­though Ga­ha­gan was greeted by the mall’s guest ser­vices man­ager, Matthew LeMay, when she ar­rived, she went about her shop­ping

spree on her own.

“We just wanted her to be com­fort­able. She was even free to come back an­other day to shop if she wanted to,” said Kathy Smith, the mall’s direc­tor of mar­ket­ing, who said that the Si­mon Prop­erty Group, which owns the mall, had in­for­mally part­nered with Su­san G. Komen Foun­da­tion for years, but made it of­fi­cial in the past year.

“It’s our com­pany’s way of rais­ing breast cancer aware­ness and re­search at the cor­po­rate level. It’s a very fit­ting part­ner­ship

be­tween the shop­ping cen­ter de­vel­op­ers and the or­ga­ni­za­tion. That works out to be a spring pro­gram and a fall pro­gram. We’re com­mit­ted to rais­ing $2 mil­lion in two years and we ab­so­lutely will hit the mil­lion-dol­lar mark this year,” Smith noted.

Saturday’s gift of a shop­ping spree was meant to rec­og­nize the mall’s re­la­tion­ship with Su­san G. Ko­man Foun­da­tion while re­ward­ing a breast cancer sur­vivor dur­ing Breast Cancer Aware­ness Month, Smith said.

Those who do­nate $10 to the foun­da­tion re­ceive spe­cial dis­counts of up to 25 per­cent at par­tic­i­pat­ing stores, noted LeMay.

“If you’re buy­ing a $1,000 bag at Coach 25 per­cent off is quite a dis­count,” he said.

The fundrais­ing cam­paign pro­vides the in­cen­tive that cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate, Smith added.

“They see the of­fers that these re­tail­ers have ex­tended,” she noted. “It’s a great value, but more than that, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to sup­port a great cause.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Patti Ga­ha­gan, who runs the Young Breast Friends sup­port group, was awarded a shop­ping spree at King of Prus­sia Mall on Saturday in honor of her vol­un­teer work.

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