The Times – Pink Ribbon Society benefit for breast cancer awareness returns after one-year absence

The Times – September 27, 2021

HOBART — After a year’s absence, the Pink Ribbon Society’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon was back in business on Sunday.

Ann M. Peters, president and founder of the Pink Ribbon Society, wore a pink dress and a big smile as she welcomed some 400 attendees to the event held at the Avalon Manor Banquet Center.

“Hello, welcome back. We lost a whole year. I’m glad to be here and to see so many familiar faces and new faces. Thanks for your support,” Peters said.

The Pink Ribbon Society, founded in 2001, is an organization that helps promote breast cancer awareness.

The organization serves men and women in Lake, Porter and Newton counties whose lives have been touched by breast cancer.

Peters said not being able to hold the luncheon, one of the group’s major fundraisers, last year put a serious dent on the organization’s bottom line.

“It was touch and go. We didn’t know if we would make it another year,” Peters said.

Peters said the organization was able to collect some $20,000 in funds from a fundraiser called SOS or Save Our Society while an additional $10,000 was received from Go Fund Me.

The majority of the donations received by the organization came from the community and businesses.

“We were allowed to keep our doors open. The community and the local businesses stepped up and took care of us,” Peters said.

Peters herself is a breast cancer survivor having discovered a lump in her breast in 1977 which was diagnosed as stage 2 metastatic breast cancer.

It was sometime after her recovery that Peters came up with the idea for the Pink Ribbon Society.

“I had to do something, just paying my dues,” Peters said.

Maura Rowley, who served as the event’s master of ceremonies, thanked those who came to the luncheon which featured pink-colored table decorations and many attendees dressed in pink.

“This is our 20th anniversary. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the community. Without your support we wouldn’t be able to do so,” Rowley said.

Rowley said all funds raised stay in Lake, Porter and Newton counties.

To date $650,000 has been raised by the non-profit organization.

Tom Schager, general manager for the Times Media Company, praised the work of Peters and her “energy and passion” that brought everyone to the luncheon.

“We will do everything we can to bring awareness and to lend our support,” Schager said.

New at this year’s luncheon was the presentation of the Dorothy Marie Gillespie Humanitarian Award.

Gillespie, who died of COVID-19 in December, was remembered for her civic mindedness that kept her engaged in many breast cancer-related projects.

Her own lumpectomy and treatment in 1987 became the catalyst to her involvement in the support of breast cancer patients.

Gillespie, a longtime nurse, served as an Open-Door support group coordinator for Y-Me National Breast Cancer through Munster Community Hospital from 1990 to 2012.

“Her generosity and passion is evident in all she did. Her life’s work aligned so closely with the Pink Ribbon Society,” said Janice Ryba, CEO at St. Mary Medical Center.

Gillespie’s family accepted the award on her behalf.

Also honored were the 12 cancer survivors who are featured in the Pink Ribbon Society 2022 calendar — each month featuring the honoree’s story.

The honorees are: Margaret Ann Clark, Ms. January; Mary Ann Hoogeveen, Ms. February; Becky Strotman, Ms. March; Sharon L. Bailey, Ms. April; Teresa Cruz, Ms. May; Megan Summers, Ms. June; Laura M. Myszak-Wolfe, Ms. July; Shatondria (Tonya) Anderson, Ms. August; Grace Hughes, Ms. September; Jeannette Jennings, Ms. October; Teresa Gesiakowski, Ms. November and Charlet Rosta, Ms. December.

In addition, 17 Celebrity Servers, prominent community leaders/volunteers who included: Larry Alt, Larry Alt & Associates, Vincent Balbo Police Chief Lake County Police Department, Dr. Bharat Barai Premier Oncology Hematology Associates, Greg Chip Southlake Nissan/Kia, Mark Dennie, Community Advocate, Nicholas Madvek Nisource, Tom Magurany Walgreens Winfield, Kurt Meyer Methodist Hospitals, Chris Pavlou Radius Restaurant, Paul Peters Community Advocate, Tom Pruzin Pruzin Brothers Funeral Service, Brent Rosenbower Community Advocate, Michael Rowley Community Advocate, Terrell Taylor Community Advocate, Dave Thomas Community Advocate, Andre Tyler Community Advocate and Ken Barnes McColly Real Estate.

Invitations for 20th Annual Survivors’ Celebration

Watch your mail. The invitations to the 20th Annual Breast Cancer Celebration will be out this week. Seating is limited this year to just under 400.

We will be practicing social distancing with our table set up being 5-6 feet apart with ONLY 8 guests to a table. AT THIS TIME, we will not make any exceptions to this arrangement. These are the requirements of our venue, the Avalon Manor.

We will have our Baskets Galore Raffle and are also welcoming a limited number of vendors. Again, we will practice social distancing during the day in these areas.

In order to keep crowding down in any one area, we have placed the vendors on the west side of the ballroom and the raffle on the east side. This should keep us from getting bunched up.

Per our venue, everyone is required to wear masks. These can be removed when seated. We are even requiring our Celebrity Servers to wear exclusive Pink Ribbon masks while serving….

This year, we will once again hand out wrist bands for the basket raffle . Your wrist band will have ONE OR ONE SET of numbers written on it. This is the number you will put on the back of the raffle tickets you buy before placing them in the raffle bags. Any clarification on how this works? Ask any Pink Ribbon committee person.

Please join us as we will once again be presenting our 2022 Calendar Honorees.

We look forward to seeing everyone this year. We hope you will consider joining us in a safe manner.

If you do not receive a newsletter and invitation to our event, please contact the offices and we’ll gladly send one to you.

20th Annual Survivors’ Celebration

WE’RE BACK…..Well, it’s official…..the 20th Annual Pink Ribbon Society Survivors’ Celebration will be held on September 26, 2021 at the Avalon Manor.

The governor still has strict restrictions on the number of people who are allowed to gather for events of this kind. At this time, we will only be allowed to seat 360 individuals for the event (we normally do 800) and we will be practicing social distancing.

Newsletters and invitations will be sent out around April 1 and again, seating will be limited. So if you want to attend the luncheon this year, you’ll have to get your reservation in early.

Any questions, please feel free to call us at (219) 472-0704.

Really looking forward to seeing everyone again this year.

Breast Cancer Survivor Calenar

Now Accepting 2022 Nominations For Breast Cancer Survivors’ Calendar

Starting immediately, we are taking nominations for the Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Survivors’ 2022 Calendar.

Nominate a man or woman you feel would make a good role model for others who have been more recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Only stipulations is that they be at least three years post op and out of treatment.

You can snail mail the nomination or send it to our e-mail address at If you’re going to e-mail the nomination, put “nomination” in the subject area. Mailing address is 303 E. 89th Avenue, Suite 100, Merrillville, IN 46410.

Include the nominee’s name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. We’d also like to know a few personal things about them, i.e. married, employed, children, grandchildren, etc. Regarding their diagnosis, please include the following information if you have it, i.e. when they were diagnosed, kind of cancer/treatment. It’s also nice to know some special things like what they may have done since their diagnosis to pay it forward to others diagnosed with breast cancer, i.e. support groups, walks/runs to support breast cancer, other breast cancer affiliations.

Also, please include your name, e-mail address and phone number in case we need to get in touch with you.

Deadline for nominations is August 1 with the Calendar Girl Reception being held August 9th for those chosen to appear in the calendar. The Breast Cancer Awareness Survivors’ Celebration will be held Sunday, September 26, 2021 at the Avalon Manor. The nominee must be available for both the reception and celebration.

Once again, The Times will produce and print the calendar and Edda Taylor will do the photography.

2021 Survivor's Calendar

2021 Breast Cancer Survivors’ Calendar

We are very proud to introduce the 2021 Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Survivor Calendar Honorees.

Due to the pandemic, with supporters concentrating on more important things, we did not receive enough nominations for a new calendar (we’ll save the ones we got for consideration for 2022.)

So we decided to share the inspiration of former calendar honorees who continue to survive and thrive following the diagnosis of breast cancer.
The calendars are now on sale in the Pink Ribbon office at 303 E. 89th Street, Suite 100, Merrillville, IN for just $ 10.00 each.

This would make a great gift to someone you know who would be inspired and encouraged to see the awesome lives these individuals are leading following the prior diagnosis.

You can give us a call at (219) 472-0704 to reserve your order or to have a calendar mailed out. We are not personally available in the office on a regular basis, so please call before coming in.

Our special thanks to the 2021 Calendar Honorees, The Times Media Company and Edda Taylor Photographie for making this year’s calendar possible.

Ms. January – Linda Gintert Armstrong
Mr. February – Larry Gardner
Ms. March – Evelyn Thomas
Ms. April – Mary Anne Lahayne
Ms. June – Lola Stephens-McCann
Ms. July – Kristina (Tina) Chip
Ms. August – Shirley Wade
Ms. September – Lynn Duimich
Ms. October – Christine Vestal
Ms. November – Janet Petrites
Ms. December – Marjorie Gresser
Ms. January 2022 – Margaret Ann Clark