The Celebration of Life Luncheon 2017 was the 19th annual luncheon hosted by the Austin Alumnae Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha to benefit the Seton Breast Care Center and the ZTA Foundation. The luncheon was held on March 7th, 2017 at the well-known JW Marriott Hotel in the heart of downtown Austin, TX. Neiman Marcus unveiled its chic, unique and exclusive 2017 Spring/Summer fashion show specially tailored for the Celebration of Life attendees. The event filled the outstanding “Grand Ballroom" with 650 guests where the 2017 theme was "Where Hopes Takes Flight." The attendees helped raise funds to support the life-saving care that is given to patients at the Seton Breast Breast Care Center (SBCC). All the funds raised during the luncheon where more than $350,000 was grossed to benefit the acquisition of a state-of-the-art ‘Stereotactic’ biopsy system technology upgraded to enhance and expand care (80%) and the ZTA Foundation to support breast cancer awareness and education nationally (20%). The upgraded Stereotactic biopsy system includes 3D Tomosynthesis which allows for better visualization of the area of concern, especially in women with dense breasts. It also allows the physician performing the biopsy to more accurately identify and access the area of interest. The upgraded system matches the 3D technology on the current mammography unit used for screening and diagnostic studies in the Seton Breast Care Center, important equipment much needed for an accurate and conclusive diagnostic.
Pam Crowther, the Director of Volunteer services at Seton, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the Seton Breast Care center in 2015. Pam completed her treatment one year ago and opened up about the life-saving care she received at Seton, “I don’t know where I would be today without the Seton Breast Care Center. I’m incredibly grateful for having such a great care and staff available to me during a very scary time and thankful that they continue to support me along my cancer journey.”
The 2017 Celebration of Life Luncheon had special recognition for the honorary co-chairs: the First Lady Cecilia Abbott; Seton Breast Care Center co-founder and breast cancer survivor Susan Lubin; and former supporter of the Seton Breast Care Center and also breast cancer survivor, Lisa Youngblood.
The luncheon also had an especial recognition for the Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton, who said exclusively to our magazine, “It was an honor to attend this year’s Celebration of Life luncheon to support the strong, inspiring women who have battled breast cancer. My wife is a cancer survivor, and this is a cause near to my heart. The disease is more than a pink ribbon - it impacts too many of our mothers, daughters, and sisters. The luncheon is a great reminder that we must do all that we can to support finding a cure.”
The Co-chairs for the luncheon were Maria Groten, Cynthia Harkness, Rachel Jamail, and Mary Herr Tally. Members of the Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity were in attendance as well, including former National President, Nan Boettcher.
Kendra Scott donated with an open heart rose quartz jewelry to the entire audience including attendees and survivors. The survivors received a handwritten note of encouragement included with their gift; these notes were written from a variety of people ranging from customers in the store to the staff. Kendra also donated $15,000 to the Celebration of Life during the ask portion of the event.
The highlight of the event was Neiman Marcus' presentation of “The Art of Fashion” that featured a haute couture fashion with the latest trends for Spring/Summer 2017 that ranged from embellished, stripes, ruffles, flounces, to neutrals. The runway featured the following designers: Marc Jacobs, Brunello Cucinelli, Etro, Alice & Olivia, Derek Lam, Milly, and Roberto Cavalli. The jewelry for the models was provided by Kendra Scott and Le Metier de Beaute provided the makeup for the models and this year’s emcee was Pam Crowther.
While the slideshow of survivors was being aired, fifteen-year-old Madison McWilliams performed her latest song "fighter" for the luncheon guests. Madison has been featured in several magazines in the US and performed also during SXSW 2017. Madison’s mother is herself a breast cancer survivor and Madison was inspired to write “Fighter” after visiting patients at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
Madison’s mom Andrea McWilliams said to Splash, “The Celebration of Life Luncheon brings a community of women together every year in Austin in a show of strength and resilience against this life changing the diagnosis. To look around that room and see so many so many that have been impacted by breast cancer is a stark reminder of how fervently we all should endeavor to get our annual mammograms. Early detection is the key and this event allows Austin to acquire the latest and best detection equipment to help all women.”
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Videos Courtesy of Seton Breast Care Center and the ZTA Foundation by Fat Cat Productions.
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