Ribbon Report Spotlight

September 2020 Spotlight: American National Bank & Trust Company

How and why did American National Bank become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

American National serves communities throughout central and southwest Virginia, sharing much of the same footprint as Susan G. Komen Blue Ridge. By supporting Komen, we saw a way to also support many people in our communities that have been impacted by breast cancer, including some of our employees and customers.

Describe an uplifting moment your company has experienced during your time supporting Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

We have regularly attended the Pink Promise luncheon in Roanoke and often have people who have been closely touched by breast cancer at our table. These luncheons provide bonding experiences among the people who attend as we tend to leave with a deeper understanding of the struggles of others and are inspired to make a difference.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

Combined with exceptional leadership, it’s the community support that fosters Komen’s deep effect on so many. I would encourage anyone to attend an event – a race or a luncheon to get involved in this movement to see first-hand the impact it has on so many strong women in our community.

What keeps American National Bank motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

We appreciate the critical work Susan G. Komen provides not only on a national level, but also on a local level as well. The local breast cancer programs are such an important avenue to see that every woman in our community has access to breast health care and education.

August 2020 Spotlight: Branch Group

How and why did Branch become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

When one of our company officers, Melanie Wheeler, became the Treasurer of the Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge Board of Directors, she began a race for the cure team at Branch.  Many of the team members were colleagues and breast cancer survivors.  In 2015 we formed BranchGives, our philanthropic committee and Komen approached Branch to be a race sponsor.  We’ve been a sponsor every year since then.

Describe an uplifting moment your company has experienced during your time supporting Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

Everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer, is a survivor or actively fighting the disease—whether it be a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor. When it’s time to sign up employees to volunteer to work our sponsorship booth at the race, we never have a problem, and usually employees approach us to help.  Working with people who genuinely care and want to help is not only heartwarming—it’s uplifting.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

Get involved! Your involvement does make a difference.

What keeps Branch motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

All you have to do is look around and the chances of knowing someone who’s been affected are very likely. Our employees want to help their teammates, their families, and their community.  Supporting Susan G Komen’s mission allows us to do just that.  Writing a check to support an event or cause is fine, but when you have people who join forces and step out to help others, THAT is what really motivates us. Employee engagement is real and more meaningful when you know someone who is a survivor, has a family member who is either a survivor or sadly, currently fighting or have lost their battle.  Both the men or women at Branch support Susan G. Komen’s mission because it has affected all of us in some way.

July 2020 Spotlight: Melissa Edwards

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

I became involved with the local chapter of Susan G. Komen because of a personal connection with someone who had breast cancer.  I have always been a supporter independently and then our company, Virginia Prosthetics & Orthotics started a team.  I enlisted as the Team Captain and have been grateful for our team’s support in this cause.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

Read up on the foundation. The majority of support raised stays here in the community to help women and men get assistance in rides, tests, and support. The remaining goes to research which is imperative so we can find a cure!

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

I have a personal connection as my grandmother passed away from breast cancer and back then it was almost taboo to have open discussions and find support she desperately needed.  I believe in what Susan G. Komen is about, what they do, and who they support.  It’s more than a donation to this cause, it’s a relationship in a fight together whether you are a survivor, fighter, or supporter.  It’s being a part of something bigger to ease fears, stand together, and show support.

June 2020 Spotlight: Anne Fox

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

I was asked to help get the local affiliate started by founding Board President, Dr. Bob Williams. He had been my surgeon when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. I joined a group of dedicated volunteers and together, we helped to launch the Virginia Blue Ridge Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.

Describe an uplifting moment you experienced during your time with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

It warms my heart to see how much has been accomplished to support the women…and men, in our area. The “breast” friends that I have made through the network of survivors and volunteers are some of my most treasured friends. But the event that brings the donors, the survivors and fighters, and the grantees together for an evening is my favorite! It brings our mission full circle in one evening.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

So much of the money that we raise…75%, stays in our own affiliate area!! The other 25% goes towards research. We ARE making a difference and are getting closer and closer to a cure!

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

I am a 21 year breast cancer survivor. Through Komen, I found support, understanding, and hope. I am committed to Komen’s mission, to end breast cancer FOREVER.

April 2020 Spotlight: Tara Nepper

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

As a breast cancer survivor I know how important it is to have a local organization that provides education, research funding, and connection to others going through the same thing. I accepted the offer to serve on the Komen Board because I want to make sure that every woman has an opportunity to have screening mammograms and a community to provide help and support to her and her family and caregivers.

Describe an uplifting moment you experienced during your time with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

Every April we have an event called the Circle of Hope. This is time for us to meet the organizations who have received grant funding as a result of our yearly fundraising efforts. This event shows us how many people there are in our service area who are passionate and dedicated to supporting patients by offering free screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms and even providing transportation. These organizations continue looking for ways to help make the journey through breast cancer a journey that doesn’t completely deplete a person financially as well as emotionally.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

I would love to for all of the communities that we serve, all 42 counties and cities, to know that we are here for you locally. We use a community profile survey to guide our decisions so that we are reaching the areas and people who most need our help. We raise money in your community so that we can give back to your community.

I also want everyone to know that we provide a Treatment Assistance Fund which puts money into the hands of patients in order to lessen their financial burden while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

We can’t be fearful about getting a mammogram. That is the first step to living because early detection does save lives. It saved mine however I’ve talked to so many women who are scared of what comes next if they do have breast cancer. With early detection what comes next can be the difference of life or death and I want to help alleviate fear that might keep women from having a yearly mammogram.

March 2020 Spotlight: Shelley Campbell

How and why did you get involved with Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge?

In June of 2008 I went for my annual mammogram.  I can still remember the phone call telling me that I needed to come back for more testing and then the phone call telling me that I had breast cancer.  After surgery and chemo, I was finished with treatment in January, 2009.  At the time of my diagnosis, I didn’t know anything about breast cancer and didn’t know any survivors to talk to.  I decided that I wanted to change that and reached out to Komen.  They were planning their first Race for the Cure at that time and so my husband and I were there walking and giving out educational material.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

Several years ago, a man in my church died from breast cancer.  In September I received a text from a friend telling me that a mutual friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Last month, a woman in my church was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.  I will keep working with Komen until no one gets that phone call saying he or she has breast cancer and no one else dies from the disease.

Describe an uplifting moment you have had at Race for the Cure.

This will be my eleventh year walking in the Race.  It has been exciting to see all the changes—from venue to number of people involved.  But the one thing that has stayed the same, and the one thing that I always look forward to, is the gathering of all the survivors and the support and love  as we are recognized.

Tell us about your Race for the Cure fundraiser “Dink for Pink”.

In 2015 a fellow breast cancer survivor, Becky Foster, and I decided to start a team for the Race.  It is sponsored through our church and we’ve had from 12 to 19 people on the team and last year raised almost $4,500.  After the race last year our team, Faithful Breast Cancer Fighters, was looking for a new way to raise money.  Since both Becky and I are avid pickleball players, it was suggested that we sponsor a pickleball tournament.  And so we are.  It will be March 21 and 22 at the Carter Athletic Center at Northcross School.  Registration is $40 and is open to players of all ages and levels.  We are still  looking for corporations to sponsor us and hope to have at least 70 players.  Come join us!

February 2020 Spotlight: Ali Ebbrecht

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

I first learned about Susan G. Komen in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio when I participated in multiple events, like Race for the Cure. Salem, Virginia has become a second home because I am now in my junior year at Roanoke College pursuing a major in public health and a minor in sociology. Within my major I have grown a passion for community outreach that supports and promotes health education just like how Susan G. Komen Affiliates work to educate community members on breast cancer around the country.  Within the past year I have a had a family member and a good family friend diagnosed with breast cancer so I have been learning on my own, including online information from Susan G. Komen, about breast cancer. A requirement for my major is to find an internship where I can apply the knowledge of public health that I have learned in the classroom. Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge is a great example of an organization that strives to do all it can to educate, inform, and contribute to the fight of ending breast cancer in the Blue Ridge area.

What made you interested in interning with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

After I graduate from Roanoke I plan to go to graduate school to earn my Masters in Public Health with a concentration of either global or women and family health. After I earn my masters I plan to pursue a career  in non-profit or government work. I chose to seek out this internship in particular with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge because I hope it will guide my future career goals. This organization works in many of the areas that I one day hope to focus on such as women’s health and community impacts.

What do you plan to take with you after your internship is over?

I plan to take with me a vast knowledge of breast cancer as well as my own promise to myself to do whatever I can to contribute to Susan G. Komen’s goal of ending breast cancer forever. Also, I am sure that my internship will give me invaluable experience of what a career will look like in a non-profit as well as professional work experience.

January 2020 Spotlight: CAPPS Home Building

How and why did CAPPS become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

We have had several of our employees, or their family members, stricken with breast cancer.  As a business owner, you want to do all that you can to help your employees.  We found that identifying a cause that is personal to us, and putting our efforts behind supporting that cause; each of us feel like we are helping to make a difference by contributing to the mission of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Describe an uplifting moment you experienced during your time fundraising for Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

I would say that seeing our employees rally around this cause, each October, and how the local community has even grown our mission by requesting to purchase the commemorative tee shirts that we produce each year for our employees.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

If you want to see your supportive efforts make a difference in people’s lives and know that you could be helping a neighbor in their greatest time of need; please consider supporting Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge concentrates their efforts on the local community, as a donor business; we appreciate the fact that the critical services they provide are kept in the community.

December Spotlight: Lil Bonnette

Lil Bonnette will join the team effective December 2nd in the role of Mission Manager. In this role, she will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Affiliate’s mission initiatives and programming, including grant-making, community outreach, education programs, community mission leadership efforts, and public policy initiatives.

Before starting at Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge, Lil’s career spanned association management, design, marketing, and sales with a focus on helping companies and nonprofits tell better stories to advance their vision and mission. Lil has held positions in the nonprofit sector as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Technical College Commissioners (SCATCC) and the Vice President of Community Impact at the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP) and is an alumnus of the BluePrint for Leadership, a professional development course targeting future nonprofit leaders. While at SCATCC, Lil provided orientation and education for board members and worked on lobbying campaigns to advance the system’s efforts. At UWVP, Lil oversaw the grant-making process and represented UWVP in community initiatives centered on poverty.

Lil spends her free time with her husband wrangling their five-year-old twin daughters (and sweet dog Charlie Brown), planning their next adventure, and reading a good book (when time permits). She is thrilled to take on this new position as the Mission Manager at Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge to honor her grandmother and mother, who both had breast cancer.


October Spotlight: Leecy Fink

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

When I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, a couple of friends decided to create a team for the 2013 Race For the Cure.  I did not even know the Blue Ridge affiliate existed.  We ended up with two teams, after my husband’s work also established a team.  We had over 100 participants and I was the top fundraiser and had the top fundraising team that year.  The following year, I joined the Board of Directors, but had to quickly step down, when my cancer metastasized in April 2014.  For the last six years, I have co-chaired Lynchburg’s Laugh For the Cure, represented our affiliate at the National Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., spoken at several affiliate events and most recently, chaired the launch of an educational video series for metastatic breast cancer that will debut on October 13, 2019.   I see the importance of our mission every day in my own life and have seen the impact, firsthand, as a patient and advocate for the breast cancer community.

Describe an uplifting moment you experienced during your time with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

Crossing the finish line in my very first Race For the Cure is a moment that still brings tears to my eyes.  I was bald and in the depths of chemotherapy.  I wasn’t able to walk the distance but was determined to get out of my wheelchair and cross the finish line with my husband and children.   I have never felt more sure that I was going to survive than I did on that day.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

Get involved!  Volunteer!  Participate!  The friends I have made through our local affiliate are lifelong friends that I would never know had I not said “Yes” to getting involved!

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

At the very first Pink Promise Luncheon, we were asked to make a promise on a card and the promise was later mailed to us as a reminder.  The promise hung on my fridge for years.  It remains my promise and motivation today.  “To do everything in my power to make sure my children never walk in these shoes.”

August Spotlight: Melanie Wheeler

How and why did you get involved with Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge?

I became involved because I am a breast cancer survivor and my Mom is a breast cancer survivor.  I wanted to contribute in some way.  When I was being treated for breast cancer, I often thought about what a hardship it would be to have to worry about financial issues during such a difficult time.  When you are fighting for your life the last thing you need to do is worry and increase stress levels.  At the time I became involved with Komen, my Mom was alive and cancer free.  But in late 2016 breast cancer returned and took her life in 2017.   This made me want to do more, so no more families have to suffer the loss of a loved one to this horrible disease.

What was the inspiration behind your event More Than Pink Drinks & Links?

My mother is the inspiration behind this event.  I know firsthand what it is like to be a patient and to be treated for breast cancer and I know firsthand how devastating it is to lose a loved one to this disease.  Our family will never be the same since our Mom is gone.

What do you want people to know about More Than Pink Drinks & Links?

-More than Pink Drinks and Links is comprised of two separate events.  A Pink Party will be held on 8/3 at Waterfront Golf and Country Club, there is live music, heavy hors d oeuvres, extensive silent auction, live auction, and a 50/50 golf ball drop.  This is the second year for this event and we raised more than 30,000 dollars for the Blue Ridge Affiliate.  I am very proud of that and very proud of the team of people that put this all together.  It was amazing to be a part of it.

-The Golf event will be held on Monday 8/5/2019.  Golfers will experience, Dan Boever, former senior long drive champion and golf entertainer, followed by a scramble golf tournament played at the beautiful Waterfront Golf and Country Club.  A special luncheon will be held after the tournament including Dan Boever.  There will be excellent tee favors provided to each play along with awards.   This is the first year for this event.

Describe an uplifting moment you have had while being involved with Komen.

When my mother passed away, I realized how important it is to work to better our world.  I realized how dedicated our board of directors is and how dedicated our staff is to eradicating breast cancer and supporting breast cancer patients that are in need.  It was reassuring to be part of that, part of something bigger and important.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

Nearly every day I learn about another family’s struggle with breast cancer and I know that my job is not done and I have to remember that there are others that need support and help and encouragement.  It keeps me involved.

July Spotlight: Christa Brady & Andrea Collins

How and why did you decide to sign up for our 15 mile walk, Komen on the Creeper?

For us, the decision to be part of the inaugural Komen on the Creeper was a no-brainer!  We jumped at the chance to spend some quality “sister-time” together on the Trail, all the while supporting a cause that is very near and dear to our family. It also did not hurt that the event was being held in Abingdon, where our parents currently reside.  When you have the opportunity to support a tremendous cause, experience a great outdoor adventure, and spend time with your family all at the same time; you do just that!  I might also mention that the inaugural Walk occurred just at my 10-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.J

Describe an uplifting moment you each experienced last year while doing Komen on the Creeper?

Wow!  It is difficult to narrow down to one moment as the entire experience was truly uplifting.  First, there was the fundraising challenge of which sister could raise the most money. (You know, a little sisterly competition is a good thing, especially when it comes to such a great cause.)  Then there was the drive down together to Abingdon, where we were greeted by smiling faces of the on-site registration team at the Heartwood center.  Their enthusiasm was contagious, and that energy carried us through to the morning of the Walk and the special Opening ceremony.  Side note, if you have never experienced the Opening Ceremony of a Komen event, you should know one thing.  Expect chills (electricity) to run through your body.   Once on the Trail, it was the scenery, the conversations, the people, the laughter, Nature’s silence, the rain, the pink ponchos….it was all of that that kept us lifted. And, of course, this best feeling of the day may have been making it the finish line, walking under the balloon arch to the other side, looking at each other and those around us and saying “WE DID IT!” And, yes, we celebrated our successful adventure by sharing a sisterly Mimosa toast!

What advice would you give to people considering doing this year’s event?

Do it!  Do not doubt yourself in any aspect of the event.  Not the fundraising, not the 15-mile Trail, nothing.  Grab a friend or family member, perhaps someone you have not connected with in a long time, form a team, or even go at it on your own.  (You’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals, so you’re never really alone in this type of event.)  Utilize social media to promote your fundraising cause.  Do train for the physical aspect of the walk by doing practice trail walks.  Wear layers on the day of the Walk.  Bring a back-pack for your water bottle, any snacks, and your phone or camera.  Don’t hit the trail without a camera, LOL!  Most importantly, prepare to be “wowed” and experience a truly moving experience and sense of accomplishment.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

For Andrea and me, it is very personal.  When I was 5 years-old, and one month prior to Andrea’s birth, our grandmother (our Dad’s mom) lost her battle to breast cancer.  She did not get to see her 50th birthday. Andrea never got to meet her.  That was forty years ago this year.  The level of research, funding, screenings, and treatments and options were nowhere near the advanced levels of today. It is organizations such as that of Susan G. Komen that have made significant and life-saving advancements in breast cancer research over the past many, many years.  Having been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, and now celebrating my 10-year remission, I can truly attest to the results of SGK’s mission.   If not for their work and dedication to this cause, well, I think you already know how may story may could have ended.  Literally.


April Spotlight: H.B. Hunter

How and why did you become involved with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge?

Hilary Thompson was a 2018 BigWig.  I noticed the commitment she made to the cause.  When she asked me to consider being a BigWig in 2019 I was caught off guard.  I thought and prayed about it for a couple weeks and had already made up my mind to participate before going to the informational meeting.  I hadn’t let Hilary in on my intentions prior to the meeting.  As I’ve shared in my BigWig profile, my mother is a breast cancer survivor.  Shortly after learning of my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2010, I learned that my father-in-law had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.  He lost his battle with cancer in November 2013.  For my wife, Danielle, and me to each have a parent battling cancer was horrifying.  Watching Danielle lose her father was gut wrenching.

I strongly believe that when someone asks for help, then thats what you do.  Hilary and the folks at Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge asked me to help, and here I am.

Describe an uplifting moment you experienced during your time with Susan G. Komen VA Blue Ridge.

Danielle and I have two children, Olivia who is seven and Joseph who is four.  I’ve had several uplifting moment with them during the BigWig Campaign; however, two come to mind.  One afternoon while driving home with Olivia, she asked me about breast cancer out of the blue.  We talked for a few minutes about statistics such.  As the conversation was winding down, she said, “Dad, I hope you help find a cure for breast cancer before I’m an adult so I don’t die from it.”  Talk about hitting me right in the feels.  At that moment, I knew without a shred of doubt why I was doing this.

Joseph attends Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center (EELC) in Lynchburg, VA.  The folks at EELC, wholeheartedly embraced my BigWig campaign.  Joseph was a little unsure of me wearing the wig into preschool with him the first day, but as soon as he saw the other kids’ responses, he was all for it.  I’ve worn the wig for every pickup and drop off since February 28th.  Jane Gerdy, the executive director at EELC, asked me they could be involved, so she and I put together a plan where I would come read to the two oldest classes while sporting my pink wig.  I read “The Book with No Pictures” and “I Stink” to both classes and had a grand time.  The office staff at EELC put together a pink donation box that stayed at the preschool for a week.  Children, and I’m sure a few parents, raided their piggy banks to support my campaign to the tune of $187!

Every day during this BigWig Campaign, I’ve been thoroughly humbled by the community of people around me.  I could not imagine the outpouring of support and stories that I’d get when this campaign started.

What advice would you give to community members about Susan G. Komen?

The Susan G. Komen organization is committed to reducing the impact of breast cancer.  They’re all in!  Everyone I know has been impacted by breast cancer.  Take the time and make the effort to learn about the Komen organization and learn how you can help.  Say yes when someone asks for your help.

What keeps you motivated and committed to Susan G. Komen’s mission?

Looking my daughter in the eye and talking to her about breast cancer has been the best motivation I could have.  I want to help bring an end to this disease.

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