Gurney's Inn
October 10, 2007

A Very Special Event At Special Effects

By the end of the weekend, Elaine Hayes expects overall donations to top $100,000.

In just five years, what started as an informal tribute to a beloved sister-in-law has morphed into a community phenomenon, with participation from almost every business in East Hampton and oodles of individuals.

This Sunday Hayes' Special Effects Salon on Newtown Lane in East Hampton will hold its fifth annual Cut-a-Thon to benefit Breast Cancer Help Inc. For 10 hours, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the salon will offer its full range of beauty treatments, from haircuts to manicures, pedicures to styling, donating every dollar to the fight to cure breast cancer. Staff will work without pay and even donate tips. Drive down Newtown Lane and you'll see a legion of volunteers in pink T-shirts flagging down passersby to sell raffle tickets.

Hayes and her helpers spend about a month soliciting donations for raffle prizes. She has commented on how generous the community is, and this year the bounty has burgeoned. Prizes range from restaurant dinners to stays at local inns to free fuel fill-ups. This year Plitt Ford donated special gift bags for patrons that contain nail polish in the signature pink, educational materials about breast self-exams and other surprises. The drawing will be held at the end of the day Sunday.

Hayes first hosted the Cut-A-Thon in 2003, in memory of her sister-in-law Sally Schuerlein, who lost her battle with the deadly disease. In an interview with The Independent last year she noted how many of her customers, employees, loved ones and friends have grappled with the disease. "It seems everyone is touched by this deadly disease at some point." On Sunday, walk-ins will be welcomed on a first come, first served basis. To schedule an appointment, call 324-5996.

There are myriad advocacy and non-profit agencies dedicated to breast cancer awareness and the search for a cure. Hayes chose to work with the Long Island-based Breast Cancer Help, Inc. because every dime collected by the group goes toward helping local women. Its mission is to promote education and awareness of breast cancer issues and to help ensure patients have access to the best possible medical care.

Founded in 1994, BCH has participated in, and launched, breast cancer mapping, studies and a statewide registry. It spearheaded the move to create a special help line at Stony Brook University Hospital and was at the forefront of a campaign to create the Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp. Proceeds from every sale of the stamp go to fund research.

October has been designated National Breast Cancer Awareness month. A variety of special events on the East End have been planned to raise public awareness, as well as honor survivors and the memories of those who have fallen.

Throughout the month Southampton Hospital and the South Fork Breast Health Coalition are sponsoring a panoply of special breast-related events.

Among them, the wildly popular birdhouse auction takes flight this weekend at the Southampton Cultural Center. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. attendees have the chance to bid on birdhouses decorated by local artists, survivors and celebrities. Renée Zellweger serves as honorary host of the event, which boasts birdhouses created by a gamut of stars and luminaries such as Brooke Shields, Aretha Franklin, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and polo hunk Nacho Figueras. Tickets for the celebrity auction are $40. Call 726-8608 to get involved.

Also in Southampton, a reception for Southampton Hospital's new breast surgeon, Dr. Edna Kapenhas-Valdes will be held at 5 p.m. in the Parish Hall next Monday.

This month the hospital and SFBHC highlight a variety of special programs for breast cancer patients and survivors. From free yoga classes at the Parish Hall to a knitting group called "Chicks with Sticks" at Hildreth's Department Store to free meditation classes at the office of the advocacy group Fighting Chance in Sag Harbor, there are bounties of boob-beneficial activities available. Later this month a 5K run/walk will be held on Shelter Island (October 20 at 10 a.m.). Free art therapy classes kick off at the teaching center at the hospital on October 22 and the Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor hosts a "Day of Renewal and Hope" on October 24.

Announcing the schedule of events, Susan Barry-Rosen, SFBHC president and community outreach coordinator for the hospital's breast center, summarized, "We have a wonderful array of events on breast health during October – and many of them offer great opportunities to increase your own knowledge about this disease and at the same time support a worthy cause."

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