Annual Memorial Hermann In The Pink of Health gala shifts to enhanced virtual event

Like many other events in 2020, the annual Memorial Hermann In the Pink of Health

Like many other events in 2020, the annual Memorial Hermann In the Pink of Health gala has been canceled and replaced with what organizers described as an enhanced virtual event.

The gala is a major fund-raiser for breast cancer awareness and research and normally sees hundreds of attendees don elaborate garb and outfits while raising money over a luncheon.

Now, says event coordinator Ann Wolford, it will all be done online with varying segments for supporters.The theme of this year’s online gala is “A porch affair” and will be hosted via a Facebook Live online video feed at noon Oct. 23. To watch the event, possible attendees must pay a fee of $25 which will allow them access to the private video feed and ability to both bid on auction items as well as donate money.

“We took the bold leap pretty early to determine that this should be a virtual event, for primarily the purposes of keeping people safe and knowing that this missino and our cause does not go away. This is serious, this year especially. At the cornerstone of what we distribnute funding-wise is free mammograms for people who are under-insured or un-insured. We knew that was going to be more important that ever this year as people are challenged economically. People who maybe lost their job couldn’t get a mammogram screening,” Wolford said in a telephone interview. “We felt like because our mission is so important, we felt these people need these services more than ever ane had to move forward with the event. The safest way was a virtual event. And, it is our 20th anniversary.”

The theme, “A porch affair” is aimed at having attendees celebrate in style on their porches. To add to that ambience, the event has partnered with Woodlands Style House. A lucky auction winner will receive, the press release stated, a, “completely decorated porch, patio, lawn or dining room for the event.”

The event will still have an auction as usual, however plans are still in the works for the event and will be released as they are finalized.

“We have been very pleased with the response. Sponsors have stepped up. There are people who have supported us year after year, but cannot this year, so we’re offering a $1,000 sponsorship, which less than our lowest level,” Wolford added. “And we’re also offering a $25 virtual link. We understand it is a challenge, and we are very blessed some sponsors have said, ‘we can do more,’ to help subsidize sponsors who cannot (donate this year).”

In a press release detailing this year’s event, Dee Gelsomini, In the Pink of Health co-chair said while there is no in-person, physical event this year, supports, “will be celebrating from the safety of their home and enjoying the program on screen. The medium may have changed, but the mission remains the same.”

“During this time of increased unemployment, high stress and uncertainty, the need for In the Pink of Health to continue providing services for our friends and neighbors is greater than ever,” Gelsomini stated in the release. “We appreciate those who can us help us fulfill our mission by safely celebrating A Porch Affair with guests, whether it’s on a porch, a back yard, or in the comfort of your home.”

The event is heavily sponsored each year, and 2020 is no different despite being online. According to the press release, main sponsors SGL, Tricia and Jack Futcher, Adcetera, Makeup Junkie and Mary Ann and Marty Young have stepped up to support the event as usual, said Debra Cooper, In the Pink of Health co-chair, in the press release.

Sponsors of $1,000 level and higher are slated to receive a ‘Celebration Kit’ which, organizers said, is “full of surprises to help them celebrate the day of the event. The packages will be delivered to each sponsor’s home or business the week prior t tohe event. There will be gift cards and other items in those special baskets for those who donate $1,000 or more.

“We are so thankful to our community partners for their support of Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink of Health. This year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary and we are proud to say that we have reinvested over $6.6 million back to our community here in Montgomery County,” Cooper stated in the release.

Wolford said in addition to helping spread the love via care packages for sponsors, the ‘In the Pink of Health’ team will also visit homes of people in the week leading up to the event on an appointment basis to help set up the technical requirements to live-stream the gala.

There will also be a hotline on the day of the event that patrons and viewers can call to seek help with wonky connections or other issues accessing the live feed of the event. And, Wolford added, teams of tech support staff will visit homes in person the week prior to the event to help ensure cables and other technology are connected properly. The 2020 gala will be a double event educating about both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

“We know technology can be intimidating for some people. We are offering a technology concierge. You can schedule someone to come help get (patrons) connected. We felt that was important because not everyone feels comfortable with technology,” Wolford said. “We will have a help line the day of the event. The week before the event, you can make an appointment (and they’ll) come out (to homes) and show you how to get connected.”

To join “A Porch Affair” on Oct. 23, please visit or contact Ann Wolford at [email protected] The sponsorship deadline is Oct. 12.

“We want as many people as possible to participate and to make it accessible. We feel like people feel safe at home, so you can have something at your home with your spouse…with people you’ve seen throughout the (pandemic) and you feel comfortable with. We want people to tune in at noon on Oct. 23 to celebrate with us,” Wolford said. “We won’t be seeing people at a luncheon this year. We won’t see you, but we will do check-ins with people who have been instrumental sponsors, or who have received funding. We will have fun things to keep people engaged.”

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