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CancerCare’s 30th Annual Festival of Hope Gala Highlights the Importance of Community

On May 8, 2018, hundreds of CancerCare supporters gathered at the Park Savoy in Florham Park, NJ, to celebrate the national nonprofit’s 30th Annual Festival of Hope Gala. Health care industry leaders, philanthropists and friends of the organization raised funds to support CancerCare’s free services for anyone affected by cancer.

Attendees were welcomed by Anne Marie Robinson, CancerCare New Jersey Board of Managers Member and Festival of Hope Gala Chair, and Shabnam Kazmi, CancerCare New Jersey Board of Managers President. “It’s almost impossible to convey in one evening the impact that CancerCare makes on the lives of so many people around the country and right here in New Jersey,” Ms. Kazmi shared, congratulating the organization on over thirty years of local service in addition to its national programs.

The evening’s program featured a video showcasing CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Family Bereavement Camp. In the words of CancerCare Director of Regional Programs Kathy Nugent, LCSW, the annual weekend retreat allows families who have experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer to “find a community of peers that understands them.” The 2018 camp’s Ocean theme, echoing the process of grief, was mirrored in the Gala’s encouragement for supporters to “ride the wave of hope” with CancerCare.

Ms. Nugent also presented the 2018 Help & Hope Volunteer Award to Barbara J. Parmese, who has donated her time during many Walk/Run for Hope events and Healing Hearts retreats. “As I attended more events and engaged with clients, I would hear, ‘If it weren’t for CancerCare…’ Whether for a wig, counseling services, financial support, the Healing Hearts Camp: the expression of gratitude was universal,” Ms. Parmese recalled.

The evening’s featured speaker, Curtis Reid, came to CancerCare after the loss of his wife, Joann, in 2016. In his moving remarks, he described the hopelessness he felt after Joann’s passing—and the radical impact the organization’s social workers had on him and his son, Nequan. “I only wish that we knew of CancerCare when Joann was sick, because I see how incredible your work is,” said Mr. Reid. “CancerCare gave me someone to lean on. You, CancerCare, are exactly what we needed.”

CancerCare is grateful to the 2018 Festival of Hope Gala Committee Members who made the evening possible: Wendy Jacob, John F. Kouten, Gerald Najarian, Barbara J. Parmese, Anne Marie Robertson, Richard A. Sackin, Veronica Sherry, Nora Tsivgas and Beth R. Wiesner.

About CancerCare®

Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts.

To learn more, visit or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

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