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On the Ground in Houston, TX

The saying, “everything is bigger in Texas” is right on.  The weekend of March 21–24 was huge for YSC and survivors, volunteers and the medical community in Houston.   As YSC’s South Regional Field Manager, I had the pleasure of visiting our constituents and representing YSC at events raising awareness of breast cancer in young women.

Back row, from l to r:  Nancy Piña, Robert Piña, Robin Myers, Valerie Loper, Sandy Castillo, Marvin Sharp. Front wow, from l to r: Cindy Kicinski, Michelle Piña Amos
At the Houston Aeros Breast Cancer Awareness Game, March 23, 2013. Back row, from l to r: Nancy Piña, Robert Piña, Robin Myers, Valerie Loper, Sandy Castillo, Marvin Sharp. Front wow, from l to r: Cindy Kicinski, Michelle Piña Amos

Our Texas State Leaders,  Michelle Piña Amos and Sandy Castillo (also a Face 2 Face Leader), were my fantastic hosts for the weekend.  Since it was Texas, their hospitality was HUGE, and their planning and preparation for my time in Houston was outstanding.  Our weekend was packed with meetings, tours and events.

After arriving Thursday evening, I met Sandy to discuss our plans for the weekend and catch up since we last saw each other at C4YW.  We strategized and even convinced the restaurant manager where we ate to host a breast cancer awareness fundraiser this summer.

A busy Friday was highlighted with meeting Roberta Levy Schwartz, one of the co-founders of YSC.  Sandy and I met Roberta for lunch at Methodist Hospital, where she is an executive vice president.  We toured the Cancer Center and saw the infusion rooms, the meditation area and met hospital staff.  It was a delight meeting Roberta and sharing my experiences as the South Regional Field Manager.
Learn More About YSC
Face 2 Face Networking
State Leader Program
Newly Diagnosed Resource Kit


After our visit to Methodist, Sandy and I met with Alicia Kouri and Josh Fisher of the Houston Aeros hockey club to finalize the details of the next day’s huge awareness event to benefit YSC.  The Aeros are truly committed to community partnerships and supporting YSC’s mission.

Our last stop was at the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, where we met Program Manager Kerry Ingram.  Kerry was a wealth of knowledge and provided us with local resources for the ResourceLink database. It was great to see our Newly Diagnosed Resource Kit on display in their office and share other YSC resources.

Prior to my visit, Michelle and I had communicated several times but had never met in person, so I was really looking forward to meeting her.  Over dinner Friday night, we talked for hours!  Michelle shared Houston’s history as well as the history of YSC there, and we worked on plans for the next day’s events.

Saturday was the day that I had been looking forward to for months.  Early morning found us setting up our exhibitor table at the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Patient Education Conference at M.D. Anderson.  Michelle and I represented YSC, sharing information with survivors, caregivers, the medical community, volunteers and staff from other local organizations.

The conference was packed with sessions on nutrition, sexuality and intimacy, oncofertility, reconstruction and more.  The women stopping by our booth were excited to learn more about YSC and how we could support them.  We met a lovely young woman who was interested in attending the hockey game that evening.  I shared my tickets with her and was excited to see her and a friend later at the game.

After the conference, I went back to the hotel to get ready for the Houston Aeros Breast Cancer Awareness Game benefitting YSC.  Walking in, I was greeted by a sea of pink.  There were exhibitor booths, t-shirts designed by the players’ wives for sale, autographed pucks for sale and a massive silent auction.  YSC volunteers worked hard spreading the word about YSC, selling pucks and passing out thousands of pink gloves to the over 9,000 in attendance.

Local Girl Scouts celebrated their 101st anniversary at the game with a Hockey 101 class that included a patch, participating in a pink glove dance after the first period and raising awareness. Even though the Rochester Americans won in a shootout, the game was a huge success!

The Houston Aeros are donating over $7,000 in proceeds to YSC.  Our thanks to the Aeros for this partnership.  It was a pleasure to work with all the staff involved, particularly Alicia.  Her attention to detail and tireless efforts made for a truly amazing evening.  In a quote from Alicia, I am extremely thrilled with the evening. Everything from the vendors to the silent auction went great. YSC is an incredible organization, and I am honored to have worked with them. The Aeros hope to continue our partnership in upcoming years.

After a quick breakfast debrief on Sunday, I headed home to Indianapolis.  Monday back at work was busy with sending out thank you notes and follow up messages about YSC resources and materials that are available to those I met while in Houston.  I look forward to continued partnerships in Houston and extending our reach even farther across the HUGE state of Texas!