When you have a vision that is larger than life, you have a production that becomes grander than anyone’s expectations.
This past Saturday, SC Visionary Services and The Charge Up Campaign in conjunction with Dr. Alexcius Branch State Farm Agency, presented the 2nd Annual Charge Up Charge Pynk Pink Champagne Gala at Atlanta Metropolitan College. The pink carpet event was a celebration of life – honoring cancer survivors, care givers and community support organizations.
Guest were treated to an experience like no other with a cocktail hour sponsored by Oui Oui Smooth and featuring hip hop violinist Ashley Pointer. The ballroom embodied this year’s theme “The Writings on the Wall” with tables named for words of inspiration and hope. Poems written and expressed by Brittany Carmelle were inspired by lives the of honorees Felicia Mahone, breast cancer survivor and patient advocate, and Deborah Jennings, caregiver and founder of DIVAS Making a Difference and Each 1 Reach 1.
“…see it used to be too painful to share
but my testimony after surviving the death of my mother,
Two rapes, and a home invasion,
You would think I was already dead
But in actuality it is what got me to clear the air”
~ excerpt for Felicia Mahone “Why Not Me”
The gala began with a spoken word testimony by cancer survivor Bena Klier (Blaq Orchid) accompanied by interpretive dance performed by Shervoski Couture. Throughout the evening, gala hostesses Janet Jackson and Dr Chyna Bethley shared their experiences as a caregiver and a survivor, respectively. As the evening progressed, speakers shared from different perspectives of being caregivers, survivors and being both a patient and doctor. Guests also viewed the gala art gallery and participated in a silent auction with artwork presented by artist Joana O.
Former NFL player, Eric Matthews, spoke from the perspective of not just being a caregiver but also a spouse. He shared what he felt when his wife was diagnosed and how they have become advocates for survivors. His wife, Niya Brown Matthews, is a breast cancer survivor and was a 2014 Charge Up Ambassador. Other speakers included Danny Sheltz of the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge -who shared about the resources available to patients while in treatment and Ardre Orie, creator of The Beautiful Mile, shared about having three instances of lumps in her breast as early as the age of 16. Through her experience she shared the importance of completing breast exams and regular checkups.
The Charge Up keynote speaker, Dr Tonya Cole is an oncologist and breast cancer survivor. She shared an emotional testament of what it was like having to become a patient when she received her own diagnosis. Being the person who provides the next steps and words of encouragement to her patients, she had to learn how to be the one to receive those same words from her doctor team.
Presenting Sponsor, Dr Alexcius Branch spoke passionately about the importance of being proactive with securing the appropriate insurance coverage. Her boyfriend was diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer shortly after they begin dating so her passion is from firsthand knowledge of seeing and understanding how having the right protections in place can make a difference when it is time for treatments and having to prepare for what lies ahead.
Event organizer, Simpy Charessa, also shared her experience with cancer. Being a caregiver for her mother is what birthed her vision for The Charge Up Campaign. She also shared her details of the upcoming Charge Up Campaign Road Trip which will launch later in the summer.
A highlight of the evening was a surprise performance by Sunday’s Best Winner (2009) Y’ Anna Crawley. Originally attending as a supporter, Y’ Anna stated that she felt led by the spirit to share and sang a spirit lifting rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer”.
A celebration of life it was! Guests shared laughter, tears and toasts to life! The evening concluded with a survivor’s anthem performed by cancer survivor Taylor X of Nashville, TN.
The 2016 Charge Up Campaign Ambassadors are: Priyanka Banks, G “Bossman Q” Reeves, Robin Dyke, Patricia Bullock, Felicia Mahone and Roquel Caliste. Recognized special supporters are: Latezes Bridges, Bo Talley and Larry Love.
Sponsors for the evening include: Infiniti of South Atlanta, Jaxon’s Dessert Bar, Exclusiv Vodka, Skimpy Mixers. The DJ Team, Spotlight, Fluff Couture, Destiny Collection, Tanisha Mackin, The J Firm and Tru Saga Photography.
Oh Yes, I wear that title proud!
The S on my chest is for Strong
Because DIVAS are unbreakable in the flesh”
~excerpt for Deborah Jennings “DIVAS”
ABOUT THE CHARGE UP CAMPAIGN
The Charge Up Campaign was created by Charessa Sawyer after her own experience with being a caregiver for her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor. She says that she and her siblings realized that once they stopped focusing on mom “the patient” and celebrated her as mom “the person” she gained a new outlook on life. It is Charessa’s goal to travel to each state providing Day of Celebration makeovers and photoshoots for survivors and caregivers in each city. The Charge Up Campaign Road Trip will begin in July and has planned a 6 city tour to take place in the second half of the year. For information on how to become involved email firstname.lastname@example.org