Cancer clubhouse hosts fashion benefit at Sak’s

Rachel Kaplan

Each year, 1.2 million people across the United States are newly diagnosed with some form of cancer, and at least 8,000 of these diagnoses are in Minnesota.

Thanks to the Gilda’s Club organization, cancer patients and their families will soon have a place where they can join others to build a personal network of social and emotional support of others going through the same experiences.

This organization, which already has 30 clubhouses around the country, is looking forward to “opening its red door” in the Twin Cities very soon.

Gilda’s Club, which is named after the Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner who died in 1989 from ovarian cancer, stands apart from other organizations by being based around a clubhouse where cancer patients and their families can discuss, take part in arts workshops, hear lectures, attend social events, and just meditate and relax.

No other organization in the Twin Cities provides the same comprehensive selection of activities, making Gilda’s Club a unique organization. “Gilda’s Club will be a welcoming community for everyone living with cancer,” said Eva Stevens.

The first goal of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is friend building and money raising, said Stevens, who is a breast cancer survivor herself. They began this effort by launching an annual “Saturday Night Live off 5th” Charity Gala at Sak’s Fifth Avenue downtown, which included food from celebrity chefs and top Minnesota restaurants, a silent auction, live music, and a fashion show with upcoming clothes from Sak’s.

“The event went well,” said Stevens, “We wanted to spread our story and mission. It was high energy and we spread our purpose.” The event did this in multiple ways with speakers and a video compiling the importance of Gilda’s Club to cancer patients. When guests entered the door, they could also choose from dozens of different colored ribbons representing different forms of cancer to symbolize someone in their life affected by the disease.

The main reason for the event was to raise funds for the prospective clubhouse, so all the food, furniture, decorations, and silent auction items were donated by local companies and even the models donated their time to help out the cause.

Now, Gilda’s Club is focusing on finding a location to build their clubhouse and continue to raise money through a 24-month capital campaign launching in the first quarter of 2009. “We’re in the search process right now for a wealthy person or organization to get a short term loan,” Stevens said, “We’re looking for commitments of financial aid.”