When she first heard about High Priority several years ago, Maria Fiore thought it was important enough to support financially. But she didn't have any time to donate to the group that raises funds for breast cancer research.
Until she got it herself. "Now, I have nothing but time to give to this group," said Fiore on Monday at the Ritz-Carlton benefit golf tourney annually staged by the local chapter of High Priority, a cancer awareness program of the AMC Cancer Research Center in Denver.
Since her double mastectomy and subsequent breast reconstruction, Fiore has joined the organization's new Pre-Surgical Partners effort, an outreach to women facing breast surgery for cancer.
Women involved in the effort must have had cancer, Fiore says. "We lend them an ear, provide emotional support, tell them what we've been through. It can be such a frightening time."
For Fiore, news that she had a calcification--which turned out to be cancerous--in one of her breasts led her to choose to have both breasts removed.
"The doctors told me they could take out the cancer and use radiation and things would be just fine," Fiore said. "But I thought: '\o7 No way\f7 .' Let's get rid of them both so I don't ever have to worry about this again."
Her subsequent breast reconstruction--via expanders inserted at the time of surgery that, later, were periodically injected with a harmless saline solution--has her looking and feeling like a woman who has never had breast cancer surgery.
"I feel wonderful," she says. "The thing that saved me was a mammogram. They caught the tumor when it was early and tiny."
After enjoying a golf tourney on the Links at Monarch Beach, High Priority supporters gathered pool-side at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point for a cocktail reception, dinner and trophy presentation.
Top golf tourney winners were Robin Perdomo, Kathy Ewald, Jan Foshee and Sue Kanning.
Among guests was event Chairwoman Debbie Exley, High Priority President Olivia Johnson (who said of the group: "We're not a status group; we're a love group,"), Karen Betson, Wanda Cobb, Natalie Curtin, Janet Dawson, Ginny Hale, Shirley McGill and Carol Wilken.
Mark your calendar for July 25: Last year's event was a sellout and ticket sales are brisk for this year's "Beethoven Under the Stars--An Evening to Remember" benefit at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
The ultra-reasonable ($50 per-person) benefit for the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County will feature a pre-concert dinner party and reserved seating for the performance by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.
Up for auction bidding at the event: round-trip tickets to Australia with VIP accommodations at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.
"We hope our guests will recall this very special evening," says Chairwoman Joyce Weiss of Huntington Harbour. "But our event name--"An Evening to Remember"--calls attention to one of the most devastating aspects of Alzheimer's disease--the loss of thought, including the loss of pleasant memories . . . that we all too often take for granted." Call (714) 283-1111 for reservations.
Homes for the working poor: About 200 supporters of Habitat for Humanity--an organization whose supporters help raise funds to provide homes for the working poor--raised $18,000 for its projects in Anaheim, Brea and Santa Ana at a recent benefit at the home of Donna and John Crean in Santa Ana Heights.
"Businesses involved in Habitat build homes in partnership with the working poor," says Meg Waters, a spokeswoman for the group. "The organization selects families of four who make less than $25,000 per year. To have a house built for them, those families must donate 600 hours of 'sweat equity'--drive nails, that kind of thing, to help build the homes."
During the festivities, Ted Morgan, regional manager of Home Depot, received the organization's Business Partner of the Year award for his company's contribution to Habitat.
Since it was founded in 1987, Habitat has helped build 53 homes for the poor in Orange County. Among guests were Michaelene and Ted Morgan, Roylene and Paul Johnson, Colleen and Roger Oglesby, Jack and Belle Lindquist and Lori and Scott Browne.