Westport 54

acts of kindness

PINK AID COMPASSION UNTIL THERE’S A CURE by Amy Levin-Epstein

W hen a person fights breast cancer, receiv- ing treatment for the disease is only one part of her battle. There are also tremendous physical, mental and financial burdens that get piled onto families—and while those take a toll on everyone deal- ing with cancer, they are particularly devastating for those who might already be struggling to make ends meet. Whether money is already tight or patients are uninsured or underinsured, a little help can mean the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one. That’s where Pink Aid, founded in Westport in 2010 by Andrew Mitchell-Namdar, Amy Gross, Amy Katz and Renee Mandis (and launched in Long Island in October 2014) comes in. Since its creation, Pink Aid has provided an astonish- ing $1 million to grant recipients

PROUD SURVIVOR LIZ SCHUPLER DURING THE PINK AID LI

CELEBRATION OF LIFE WALKING WITH FRIEND BETH LEE

both large (St. Vincent’s hospital, Stamford Hospital, and the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Cancer Center in Bridgeport, which just received $52,000 from the charity) and small (grass roots organizations like the Cancer Care wig program and the Witness Project, a nutritional counseling service, in Bridgeport). Every single grant focuses on improving the lives of patients and alleviating some of the burden on their families. “While there are many wonderful organizations that focus on research, we specifically focus on the human side, the compassionate side. So many people in our community are fortunate and don’t have to think about decisions like stopping treatment because they don’t have transportation to go to their ap- pointments or choosing between buying groceries or buying a wig,” explains AndrewMitchell-Namdar, VPMarketing &Creative Services at theMitchell Family of Stores. By giving grants to different organizations, Mitchell-Nam- dar says, Pink Aid has served thousands of families over the years. In October, Mitchell-Namdar helped host the charity’s fourth an- nual cornerstone event, the Pink Aid Fashion Show and Luncheon at Mitchells of Westport. “We had 500 people and it sold out three weeks in advance,” says Mitchell-Namdar. The enthusiasm carried through the entire event. “The energy was so empowering for everyone there. It’s a celebration of life. Half of the models in the fashion show are actual

survivors of breast cancer, and the person who has helped them through treatment. Everyone is standing and cheering,” he recalls. One of the most memorable parts of the day was the Wall of Compassion, where guests wrote small notes of hope for people. Another highlight was an inspirational speech from veteran journalist Lara Logan, a mother of two small children and a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed after returning from a trip to Egypt during which she was sexually assaulted. She shared how her emotions took her off guard after her diagnosis, saying “I panicked for the first time in my life…While I pride myself as a strong person, I struggled.” And perhaps most relevant to the audience in attendance: “There is a community of people who will be your rocks and get you through,” shared Logan. “She was tremendous on many levels, inspiring women from her journey,” says Mitchell-Namdar, who lost his own grandmother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law to the disease. Of course, fashion was also front and center, with guests getting a sneak peek at Michael Kors’ Spring 2015 collection, ripe with opulent floral pat- terns and feminine silhouettes inspired by the 1950s. The hue of the day— pink, of course—was carried through the décor with a delicious lunch beauti- fully presented by Marcia Selden Catering, along with the signature cocktails supplied by Sydney Frank Importers, the aptly named Pink-a-tinis.

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