Sunday, August 31, 2008

Changed for good!

COLUMBUS, OHIO - The 5th Anniversary of Skate for Hope was every bit the magnificent, star-studded event I expected! Skating champs Emily Hughes, Parker Pennington, Rachael Flatt, Keauna McLaughlin & Rockne Brubaker and Tatiana Totmianina & Max Marinin showed me what world class skaters look like on the ice, and it was breathtaking to behold. But, my heart was moved beyond measure when Shannon, a breast cancer survivor, took to the ice with three of her friends. The women skated to the hit from the Broadway musical Wicked “For Good” by Stephen Schwartz and in one beautiful performance showed us how much love friends can show towards each other. (Check out the lyrics and get your tissues ready, this one’s a tearjerker.) These ladies supported Shannon during her breast cancer journey, and through their performance said it all: “Because we know you, we have been changed for good.”

Thank you, Carolyn Bongirno and the entire Skate for Hope team, for allowing me to come with you on YOUR journey. You have all come so far—geographically, emotionally and physically—and it is truly an honor and a privilege for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer to be one of the recipients of your funds. You have my heart for good, and I look forward to seeing you all next year!

Foundation team - Catherine, Me & Julie

Stars take a bow on the ice

Emily Hughes & her mom Amy, Carolyn & Me

Foundation team with Keauna McLaughlin & Rockne Brubaker

Me and Shannon

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Girl's night out!

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - Last year the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer annual Tickled Pink Toast & Tour was a big success. More than 500 guests and 50 volunteers joined us at Vera Bradley's new state-of-the-art distribution and operations office in Roanoke, Indiana. It was fun evening of entertainment and camaraderie for a good cause - all funds went toward the Foundation’s $10 million pledge to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at the Indiana University Cancer Center.

This year the Foundation is kicking off National Breast Cancer Awareness month with the fifth annual Tickled Pink event on Friday, October 3, 2008. The event will be held once again at Vera Bradley's Distribution facility and will include hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, a silent auction and a sneak peak at the new Spring 2009 colors from Vera Bradley. Tickets will be available for $75. Visit for updates on how to register. Hope to see you there!


There’s still time to buy tickets to the ultimate girls’ night out! Online registration is now up and running at

Questions about registration? Call Lisa Bragg at (260) 207-5198 or email at

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where dreams come true

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - Tonight I attended the dedication ceremony for the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center patient care with Foundation staffer Julie Pack and Vera Bradley staffer Scott Hoeppner. Indiana State Senator Tom Wyss was also there – his wife was treated at the cancer center by the same doctors I was.

What a magnificent structure! The $150 million building combines the latest in cancer therapies in one location and provides resources designed to make cancer care less stressful for the patient and their loved ones and officially opens to inpatients August 27. Every dollar that the Foundation raises goes towards our $10 million pledge to the center.

In a moving ceremony, Bren Simon was honored for her work. A staggering woman, Simon is a true testament to what you can accomplish through hard work and dedication. She is a true model – selfless, generous – and has the unique ability to recognize the needs of others and works toward making their lives better. Bren and her husband Melvin Simon also established the $25 million Joshua Max Simon Cancer Research Fund in honor of their son, and pour their efforts into their charity the Simon Youth Foundation.

Thank you, Simon family for your work and for this gift you’ve given us through the cancer center. Your doors are the ones I walked through for my own treatment, and speaking on behalf of all of the center’s patients and families – We love you!

Me and Dr. Robert Goulet, my breast surgeon

Me, Julie and Scott

Monday, August 18, 2008

Knocking breast cancer out of the park!

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - On Friday, the Fort Wayne Wizards gave the shirts off their backs, literally, to help fund breast cancer research! With Wizard’s General Manager Mike Nutter leading the team and staff, everyone involved really pitched in to show everyone just how important this cause is to them and to all of us. The entire Foundation staff (including spouses and children!) manned the pink jersey table. And our friend and Vera Bradley Sales Prospects Coordinator Debbie Bleeke also gave every survivor in attendance a Pink Elephant umbrella. As symbol of strength and unity, survivors opened up their umbrellas during the 7th inning, showing the crowd how many people are in this fight – the whole stadium erupted in thunderous applause! At the end of the game, players took off their pinstriped jerseys, autographed them and auctioned their tops to the highest-bidding fans. The pink jersey auction raised $3,460.00. What an amazing show of support, we love this team!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Great lengths for a great cause

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - We've been lucky enough to have a fabulous intern Maaria Ahmed working with us all summer. She's a senior at Washington University and she's helped The Foundation so much, especially with planning for this year's Classic and other events. We already hold Maaria in high regard, and then on her last week of work as an intern, she delights us further with the news that she is donating her beautiful long hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes hairpieces for kids who've lost their hair due to cancer or other medical diagnosis. According to the web site, the second highest percentage rate of their recipients are cancer patients.

Why did she decide to do it, especially since she hadn't really cut her hair in almost 10 years? In her words: "It's a good, easy way to give back."

She's right. It only takes a 10-inch ponytail of healthy hair. Sounds like a lot, but hair always grows back. There's more information on how to donate on the site. If you're not ready to part with your hair, there are other ways to help listed, too.

Today was the big day. So Julie and I made plans to go with Maaria as she snipped off her hair for a cause. Doesn't she look beautiful?

Thank you, Maaria, for helping us out this year - and for your amazing generosity. We love you!!!



Sunday, August 3, 2008

A skating spectacular!

Figure skating is such a beautiful and inspiring sport. I’m always in awe as skaters glide across the ice so gracefully. My heart skips a beat when they get ready to go for a jump. They make it look so easy, but it takes so much strength, training and dedication, not to mention coordination. Last year I had the opportunity to watch 2006 Olympian Emily Hughes and Olympians pair figure skaters Marcy Hinzman and Aaron Parchem take to the ice alongside other world-class stars and amateur skaters from the Columbus, Ohio area for the annual Skate for Hope, which raises funds to work toward a cure for breast cancer.

Carolyn Bongirno, a breast cancer survivor and amateur figure skater, established the fundraiser five years ago, which has already helped raise more than $150,000 for breast cancer programs and research. And this year proceeds from the event will benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. I’m so excited to be going again this year for their 5th Anniversary Show at the end of the month. If you’re in the Columbus, Ohio, area, and are interested in attending, drop me a line and let me know!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Building Hope

I’ve been working with the Vera Bradley Sales Team on a really big and exciting new project, and I’m so delighted I can finally share some of the details with you. It’s called the Hope Trail, and it’s an ongoing initiative with a special 10-day event to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. For the last couple of weeks in September I’ll be visiting Vera Bradley retailers on the East Coast who’ve all planned what promise to be fabulous events (including a BBQ on an old farm!).

We’ll be kicking things off in North Carolina with the Very Vera Brunch and fashion show at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, moseying our way up through Virginia, and ending up in Maryland. Here’s a schedule of the planned stops and dates. Click on the date for event details.

Sept. 19 Salem Creek, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Sept. 20 Ballantyne, Charlotte, North Carolina
Sept. 23 Steger Creek, Roanoke, Virginia
Sept. 24 Steger Creek, Forest, Virgina
Sept. 25 Saxon Shoes, Richmond, Virginia
Sept. 26 The Lemon Drop What Not Shop, Prince Frederick, Maryland
Sept. 27 Annapolis, Maryland

I’ll be updating the events here and on our Facebook page as soon as more information becomes available, so be sure to check back often. Drop me a line if you're in the area and would like to attend!

And, of course, I’ll be blogging and posting photos along the way. So even if you can't join us, you can follow me as I make my way along the Hope Trail!

UPDATE: Thanks to the great response we're received with the Hope Trail on the East Coast, we are adding a second leg to the trip in the Midwest.

Sept. 10 Vignettes of Arlington, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Sept. 11 Vera Bradley at Town Park Center, Deer Park, Illinois
Sept. 11 Paisley on Main, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

We have added one more stop on the Hope Trail, and we're headed back to Maryland for it.

Oct. 18 Kokopelli, Columbia, Maryland