SUMMIT, NJ -- 'Pink Tie', Susan G. Komen of North Jersey's definitive, signature event. will mark the organization's 20th anniversary and the promise made by the Affiliate’s co-founders to do everything they could to fight breast cancer and save lives in Northern New Jersey, when it honors three courageous women, Summit's Deborah Q. Belfatto, Lisa Herschli (Denver) and Kathy Hubert-McKenna (Berkeley Heights) on April 7.

The event, which wil be held at Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, recognize RWJBarnabas Health (Medical Honoree) and Wakefern Food Corp. / ShopRite (Corporate Honoree) for their "exceptional support and unwavering commitment to the Komen North Jersey mission."

“It is truly inspiring to reflect on the vision our founders had, and the promise made to do whatever they could to help end this terrible disease,” said Kelly Nagle Witkowski, Executive Director of Komen North Jersey. “Thanks to the passion and perseverance of Deb, Lisa and Kathy, we have seen tremendous accomplishments over the last twenty years. We have invested more than $23 million to fund groundbreaking research and support local community grants to organizations right here in New Jersey. We have educated thousands of women and men about breast health and breast cancer. We have saved lives. And we will keep on working until we fulfill our promise. As we honor our founders, RWJBarnabas Health and Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite for their enormous impact on the success of our past, we look forward to the future and to celebrating, with them, a world without breast cancer.”

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Diagnosed with breast cancer 30 years ago at the age of 33, Belfatto quickly came to understand -- as she moved through the long road of diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survival -- that she had survived because she had access to the right resources, connections, and relationships.

She was able to obtain the best care possible. But what, she wondered, became of all those women didn’t have the network, the family, the friends -- the support she had? She knew that she had to do something to make a difference to all the women in New Jersey for whom life-saving breast health care, screening and treatment support services were out of reach geographically, financially, mentally or emotionally. But what?

Then in 1995, she lost a close friend to breast cancer. She promised her friend’s 10-year-old daughter Jackie that she would do everything she could so that “no little girl would ever have to face those fears, or lose her mommy again.” That promise of 1995 was to become a life-long crusade. Breast cancer, already a presence in her life, now became her driving force. A year later, after seeing the Komen name, she began to work towards the goal of bringing a Komen Affiliate “home.” After long hours of research, Belfatto Herschli and Hubert-McKenna (who would become her co-founders), traveled to Dallas and petitioned the organization’s National office to bring Susan G. Komen to Northern New Jersey. 

On June 17, 1997, after a year of arduous work with their organizing committee, the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate was born, settling into a tiny space in Belfatto’s basement to begin its life-saving work. Just three months later, the Affiliate launched its first major fundraiser, 'Jackie’s Pink Tie Ball', which was destined to become its signature event, the 'Pink Tie Ball'.

The Affiliate grew quickly and moved into a small office space, and then into the famous pink-shuttered Komen House in Summit -- which became known as a “safe haven” for women facing breast cancer -- and then into its current headquarters on Middle Avenue in Summit. In May of 2008, the Affiliate proudly held its first Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure at Branch Brook Park in Newark, attended by more than 7,500 people. The Affiliate will celebrate its 10th Race for the Cure in 2017.

“The 'Pink Tie Ball' grew faster than we ever imagined in our wildest dreams,” says Belfatto. “Our first, 'Jackie’s Pink Tie Ball', was attended by 504 people and raised $350,000. Six years later, our 'Pink Tie Ball' at Neiman Marcus Short Hills drew more than 1,300 guests and raised $1.6 million dollars. So far, our Pink Tie events have raised $11.6 million, and have played a vital role in funding our mission. But we couldn’t have done it alone. 

We are deeply grateful for the wonderful support that we’ve received over the years from medical centers, corporations, individuals, and our dedicated volunteers, and the beautiful, warm relationships that have developed. It’s all about the relationships -- we depend on these relationships to do the work that we do, to provide breast health care and access to the many women and men in New Jersey who without our help might never receive it.”

Since its founding, the Affiliate has awarded more than $16 million in local community grants to non-profit organizations that provide screening / diagnostic services, breast health / breast cancer education, treatment support, and survivorship programs for underserved women and men in nine Northern New Jersey counties. In addition, over $7 million has been directed to national research programs in pursuit of new breast cancer screening techniques, better and more effective treatment options, and ultimately, the causes and cures to eradicate breast cancer forever. Last fall, Susan G. Komen launched its "More Than PINK" campaign, which celebrates the heroes who have made a significant impact in the fight to end breast cancer, and encourages everyone to act, donate and get involved. 

Co-Chairs for the 20th Anniversary 'Pink Tie Party' are Rosemary Scoppetuolo (Florham Park) and Michele Caselnova (Sparta). The event will take place Friday, April 7, from 7 p.m. - midnight at Westmount C.C., located at 728 Rifle Camp Road in Woodland Park. It will feature cocktails, dinner, dancing, live music from 'The Infernos Band' and both silent and live auctions. Attire is 'festive cocktail'.

Individual tickets for the gala are $500, and are available by visiting komennorthjersey.org/PinkTie, contacting pinktie@komennorthjersey.org, or calling 908-277-2904.