More than 400 people gathered at EGP Gastropub in Oceanside on Oct. 5 for the Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition’s second annual Black and White Cocktail Fundraiser.
The event, the coalition’s biggest fundraiser of the year, brought in an estimated $30,000, which will be used to help women in Rockville Centre and its surrounding communities who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Erin O’Sullivan had the idea to start the coalition after seeing her best friend struggle with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She, along with Peg McDonald, whose family has been affected with the disease, realized that the kind of support group they had in mind did not exist in Rockville Centre. They officially founded the coalition in January 2017.
“When Peg and I first started it was just she and I with $500 in our pockets,” O’Sullivan said. Nearly two years later, she added, the coalition is currently helping 25 women from half a dozen or so communities, and can give money to help those diagnosed improve their lives.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley, a breast cancer survivor who serves as vice president of the coalition, said that the funds are given to women to pay for items and services not associated with medical expenses, such as wigs, a babysitter, a housekeeper or a yoga class. “All those things that are extra,” she said, “but just really help.”
The organization also has more than a dozen volunteer “care counselors,” who have been through breast cancer treatments and surgeries, Baxley added. When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer locally and seeks help from the coalition, a care counselor is assigned to them for guidance and support.
The fundraiser featured food, drinks, dancing, raffles and a silent auction. It was a sold-out event, and about 100 people were on the wait list, O’Sullivan noted.
“It really is incredible that people want to come out and support us, and more importantly, the people that we get to help,” O’Sullivan said. “The community has been incredibly generous.”