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Hope takes wings Cancer Support Community sponsors butterfly release


Special to The Press

Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Wings of Hope: A Butterfly Release on Sept. 9 celebrated those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Standing by Cedar Crest College’s Alumnae Hall, attendees delighted at the release of 250 live Monarch and Painted Lady butterflies as the sun came out to brighten the cloudy sky.

The free annual event is in its 16th year.

Friends and loved ones were remembered with paper butterflies inscribed with their names and pinned to colorful curtains.

They were also celebrated with live butterflies supplied by Jim Thorpe-based Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary.

The paper and real insects, along with souvenir and food sales help fund the Cancer Support Community’s mission.

“We have been in the Lehigh Valley close to 20 years,” said Marketing and Development Manager Jen Gibbs. “We offer free programs of support, education and hope for anyone with cancer, family members, friends and caregivers.”

Services include a free wig salon, support groups, and stress reduction and healthy lifestyle programs.

WFMZ-TV 69 news anchor Rob Vaughn served as Wings of Hope emcee.

Newly-appointed CSCGLV Executive Director Gina Stano, Dr. Israel Zighelboim, from St. Luke’s, and Eileen Steirer from Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute were featured speakers.

“The CSC ensures nobody faces cancer alone, by empowering people who are affected by cancer through all kinds of support,” said Vaughn, as he emceed the event for the 13th year.

Cancer survivor Connie Renner tearfully described her battles with the disease and the critical help and support she received from CSCGLV.

“I found the silver lining to cancer and that was the CSC,” she remarked.

Renner now serves as a volunteer for the organization.

Sister act Rebecca and Carissa Ripley provided musical entertainment while families checked out craft activities at various tents.

On hand were The Chemo Bag, a Bath-based nonprofit that provides gift bags to cancer patients, and Perfect Balance Boutique owned by cancer survivor Kimberly Gerhard.

The Lehighton business provides wigs, prosthetics and undergarments for cancer patients.

Event sponsors included St. Luke’s Cancer Center, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, Adams Outdoor Advertising and Cedar Crest College.

For information, go to cancersupportglv.org or call 610-861-7555.

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER WFMZ-TV 69 news anchor Rob Vaughn leads the noon release of live butterflies.
Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley staff Finance Specialist Michelle Beil, Executive Director Gina Stano and Marketing and Development Manager Jen Gibbs takes a break from setting up Wings of Hope.
Rebecca Ripley, on vocals, and her sister, Carissa, on keyboard, provided musical entertainment at the opening of Wings of Hope. The musicians hail from Jim Thorpe.
Event volunteer Amy Bollinger from Weisenberg Township helps Sue Procina pin a paper butterfly to a memory curtain. Procina's aunt, Susan Rhoads Baxter, died from ovarian cancer.
PRESS PHOTOS BY ED COURRIER Chloe Milisits, 5, of Bethlehem, releases a Painted Lady Butterfly.
Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary Foundation Director Mari Gruber is flanked by volunteers Laura Quarmley and Michele Ayello, as they hand out butterflies in boxes and envelopes before the release.
Breinigsville resident Jessica Hostetler and her son, Tytus, prepare to release their box of butterflies.
Cancer survivor and volunteer Connie Renner attended the event with her daughter Sadie Gatch. The 18-year-old is a freshman at Penn State Lehigh Valley.