Hadassah Greater Atlanta will honor Debbi Chartash, Melody Maziar and Rina Wolfe at the annual Breast Strokes fundraiser benefiting breast cancer and genetic research Saturday night, Feb. 25.
The three women form the Angels 4 Angels team, raising cancer research money in memory of angels Lori Fierman, Jill Albert and Debbie Sonenshine, all of whom died of breast cancer before age 50. The fourth angel represents all breast cancer survivors.
The event will consist of an auction and the Big Reveal art exhibition of 35 breast cancer survivors who had their torsos painted and photographed as part of Breast Strokes, Hadassah Bares All for A.R.T. (Awareness, Research and Treatment). The proceeds will go toward raising awareness and supporting genetic research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem.
Wolfe became a member of Angels 4 Angels after Fierman, her sister, died in 2005. She has participated in the 3-Day 60 Mile Walk for Breast Cancer the past 10 years and has been a member of Hadassah since she was 16.
“When I think of Hadassah, I think of medical and health programs that are important to so many organizations, especially within our own community,” Wolfe said.
She got involved with Breast Strokes while walking with Angels 4 Angels. She met program co-chair Sue Rothstein and became passionate about raising awareness to help find a cure.
“Our goal is to raise money for young women in the community for early detection programs such as Check It Out!, which promotes breast health among young women, and Breast Strokes allows me to do exactly that,” Wolfe said. “I have met so many people along the way and try to volunteer in projects Lori would be proud.”
Wolfe’s quest has become a family affair. Her two daughters, nieces and grandchildren have also participated in the 3-Day 60 Mile Walk.
Maziar is grateful for being recognized by Hadassah. The Atlanta native has served on the board of the Ovarian Cycle the past two years. She is involved with the Susan G. Komen foundation, volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and is a lifetime Hadassah member.
“I believe Hadassah is at the forefront of medical advances, and I enjoy learning about their endeavors in the medical arena,” Maziar said.
She and Chartash began walking after Maziar discovered that a colleague was diagnosed with breast cancer and Chartash lost a friend to the disease.
“We thought it would be a good way to honor the ladies, and after participating in three walks, we thought it was time to quit, but then we heard about Jill Albert’s passing and knew it wasn’t an option,” Maziar said.
At Albert’s memorial, Maziar said, “I looked at Debbi, and we both asked ourselves, ‘How much money could we raise if everyone here participated in the walk?’ ”
The women created the Angels 4 Angels team and recruited more than 120 walkers.
“We held talks, community meetings, and visited synagogues and companies to raise money; we were eager to help find a cure,” Maziar said.
She was introduced to Breast Strokes through Joanie Shubin, the Big Reveal honoree two years ago. “It was so much more than I ever thought. It was a social, upbeat and overall great experience,” Maziar said. “I am honored to receive this recognition and hope I will always be involved.”
Chartash is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed after launching Angels 4 Angels. “I was shocked when I found out, but knew I had 120 angels behind, me and that made me feel good. I was lucky that I caught it early and feel blessed, but also appreciate the treatments other women are going through.”
Her last day of radiation was three days before the walk in 2007.
Over the course of their friendship Maziar and Chartash have done the walk 10 times. Angels 4 Angels has raised over $1 million. “We made so many connections along the way, and that to me is the most important part of walking,” Chartash said. “We have exceptional women in the community and believe the walk has a positive impact.”
Honorary event chair Gary Bodner will receive recognition for his involvement with breast cancer patients. As a retired OB/GYN, Bodner has over 38 years’ experience treating diagnosed women from Atlanta’s Jewish community. “It’s the No. 1 disease women worry about,” he said, “but there are more tests available now, and I enjoy discussing options with my patients.”
Bodner became involved with Breast Strokes after his patients discovered his passion for painting and helping breast cancer survivors.
“It was a perfect fit,” he said.
What: Breast Strokes, Hadassah Bares All for A.R.T.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25
Where: The Stave Room at American Spirit Works, 199 Armour Drive, Atlanta
Tickets: $54 for people 36 and under, $72 for all others, $85 after Feb. 12; www.hadassah.org/events/breaststrokes2017or 678-443-2961