Business leaders Go Glam to fight breast cancer

By Sally-Ann O’Dowd

When Tammy Gail was recovering from a double mastectomy, she made a deal with the universe. “I said, ‘If you get me through this, I’m going to do something really big for women with breast cancer.’ ”

Healthy and thriving 15 years later, she is making good on her promise, a journey she’s sharing with her 10-member, all-female board of the charitable organization she founded, and a wide network of change agents.

Glam-a-Thon, which began in 2006, has raised more than $545,000 for Broward Health Foundation, which distributes money to cancer patients at Lillian S. Wells Women’s Health Center in Fort Lauderdale and Broward Medical Center in Coral Springs.

Each hospital has patient navigators who follow each woman’s case. Accordingly, they can spot people in need. The foundation then steps in to fund services ranging from transportation and grocery cards to treatment for lymphedema (swelling of the arms or legs) and biopsies not covered from insurance.

This year, Gail has bestowed the “Glammy Honoree” title on notable philanthropists and social influencers, each of whom has committed to raising or donating at least $2,500 to Glam-a-Thon’s 13th annual fundraiser, The Lipstick Lounge. This year’s edition is Sept. 6, from 8 to 11 p.m., at the Gallery of Amazing Things in Dania Beach. The Stiletto Carnival theme celebrates the multiethnic backgrounds of the women the foundation supports. Tickets are $85 in advance; $95 at the door.

“Each person that we have selected to become a Glammy Honoree is a philanthropic rock star,” Gail says. “They donate to other charities and causes, and take extra steps to assist our community.”

For her part, attorney and honoree Kemie King is committed to raising awareness across a broad swath of society. “We raise funds and awareness to help women in need—I want to put a diverse face on it,” says King, an African-American who also is president-elect of the Broward County Women Lawyers Association. She has personally been touched by the disease—two friends have survived breast cancer after punching through multiple bouts.

Since 2014, BCWLA has partnered annually with a fitness studio to host a class and happy hour benefiting the nonprofit. This year’s event is taking place at Orange Theory on Cordova Road in Fort Lauderdale. Maximizing attendance includes outreach to the legal community from Palm Beach to Miami, including the T.J. Reddick Bar Association for African-American attorneys.

“Litigators spend their time taking care of other people’s problems and not our own, so getting involved is a mindfulness opportunity, too,” King says. “You have to make time to check in on your health.”

Like Gail, honoree Barbie Knight has survived the darkest of times. “I had the surreal experience of going through surgery, chemo [-therapy] and radiation,” says Knight, CEO of Just Got 2 Have It, a company matching decorative accessory brands to retailers. “But the one saving grace was that I had amazing health insurance. We should all have the same chance at life.”

In that spirit, Knight this summer raised funds at a trade show in the accessories and gift industry. For every order placed, the company will make a donation that Knight will personally match. She also enlisted the help of other companies at the show. “This will equate to thousands of dollars in donations,” she says.

Glam-a-Thon board member Debby Thomas and husband Scott are just as tenacious in helping others. A member of the local Harley-Davidson owners group, Scott Thomas has been involved for many years with the Toys in the Sun Run to benefit Joe DiMaggio Hospital.

“They are powerhouses and super passionate about what they do,” Thomas says of Glam-a-Thon’s board. “Breast cancer is a horrible disease, and it’s a beatable disease.”

Noting that asking for money is never easy, Thomas encourages people to give as much as they can. “When you write a check, you never know what kind of impact you can have,” he says. “The event is touching more and more people—when tickets go on sale, it sells out very quick. We may increase the number of tickets this year to really bring the attention it needs.”

As magnanimous as the honorees are, incentive helps when delivering on a pact with the universe.

The person who raises the most money will receive the Glammy Award at a December cocktail party at The Lillian Wells Women’s Center. Says Gail: “We will also unveil a plaque showcasing each of our honoree’s names and their efforts to kiss breast cancer goodbye.” ♦

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Kevin Gale
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