WESTFIELD, NJ — After her recent fundraiser at The James Ward Mansion in Downtown Westfield, a Scotch Plains mom of two has now raised more than $200,000 for metastatic breast cancer research, including $77,582 in 2019 for grants via METAvivor and Breast Cancer Alliance.
Tami Eagle Bowling, who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer more than four years ago, said she decided to turn her energy toward fundraising to give her diagnosis purpose. Her mantra is “Make each day meaningful.”
“I started out hosting an annual fundraiser out of my home, which has grown every year,” Bowling said.
In collaboration with Jessica Silverstein and Brooke Poller of Mix + Mingle Events, the 2019 Survive and Thrive Fundraiser held on Nov. 21 at The James Ward Mansion was Bowling’s most successful yet, she said. With more than 160 people in attendance, it raised $46,824 in one evening.
“I chose the name ‘Survive and Thrive’ because despite the challenges we face, we all need to figure out not only how to survive, but how to thrive,” Bowling said. “I am filled with gratitude at how the community came together to support this cause.”
The James Ward Mansion was decorated with pink, teal and green balloons from It’s Your Party. On the metastatic ribbon, teal represents healing and spirituality, green represents the cycle of life and pink is a reminder that the cancer started in the breast. MBC, otherwise known as stage IV breast cancer, is when the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body.
During Bowling’s speech, DJ Unique Musique Entertainment played the sound of a bell ringing 115 times, representing the number people who die every day from metastatic breast cancer.
“While some people dream about Disney World or their next vacation, my dreams are always about the next scientific breakthrough to turn MBC into a chronic illness instead of a deadly one,” Bowling told the crowd before asking them to join her on the dance floor to celebrate life.
Shari Berman spoke about Bowling, who was the recipient of the Play for P.I.N.K. Humanitarian Award in 2017, during the fundraiser.
“Every once in a while, someone walks into your life whose energy adds to yours in such a positive way and becomes an instant friend,” Berman said. “I’m not naive to think that I’m the only one in this packed mansion who feels this way about Tami. The fact this event was sold out in about five minutes proves my point.”
Bowling thanked the local businesses that helped Survive and Thrive a success.
“Mazzella’s Gourmet Market provided delicious catering and Bovella's, Maggie Cooks, The Juice House and Chocolate Works provided amazing desserts and açaí bowls,” she said. “Vendors included 4 Fashions, Bubble Wrap, Dezyne by Ilysa, Miniature Moguls, Janus' Closet, Peach, Just Name It, Hamptons Chic and RASAforyou.”
“While sipping Banfi wines, bracelets by JewelRI were given out to guests filled with meaningful words to keep top of mind including faith, hope, love, family, friends and courage,” Bowling added. “Guests were able to create GIFs and photo strips with AJ Photo Booth to share on social media.”
Gold sponsors included: Done & Done Home, Kristen Lichtenthal Real Estate, Acres Land Title Agency and The Branna Agency Insurance. Silver sponsors included Tiffany Pharmacy, Platform Hair Studio and Benninger & Sons Odd Jobs Co. The silent auction, which featured items by many local businesses, raised more than $12,000.
“There is currently no cure for MBC, and that is why more funds are desperately needed,” Bowling said. “To learn more about MBC, please visit http://www.StoryHalfTold.com, which has a focus on metastatic disease.”
Along with Lauren O'Brien, Bowling co-founded the local chapter of METAvivor Research and Support after her friend Monica Zealand Hill died of MBC at the age of 35. The group has grown to 467 members in just six months. It is not just for patients, but also for family and friends who want to become more informed about MBC and ways to take action. You can request to join on Facebook.
To donate to METAvivors of NJ, click here.
TAPinto Westfield's Giving Back section is sponsored by State Farm Insurance Agent Christine Cosenza.