Picture a young woman, sitting in her doctor’s office, hearing for the first time that she has breast cancer.
For many, this can feel like the start of a lonely journey, said Amanda Capozzi, the development and events manager at Here for the Girls Inc.
But in Williamsburg, residents are hitting the golf course this spring to show some encouragement.
“These women have something really hard handed to them, and we want them to know that their community supports them,” Capozzi said.
Here for The Girls, a Williamsburg-based nonprofit, aims to improve the lives of women under 51 who are affected by breast cancer; it does so by providing support, such as peer support, according to the website.
The nonprofit has planned an annual golf tournament for the past 11 years, aimed at raising funds for its programs and awareness of its services.
This year’s Breast Ball Charity Golf Tournament on Friday, April 20, sponsored by Hudgins Contracting Corp., will balance family fun and keeping women at the forefront.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the mission,” Capozzi said.
Planning and preparation
Services provided through Here for the Girls are funded in large part by the tournament, which nets approximately $50,000, according to Vicki Vawter, the program and community relations manager for Here for the Girls. These services are available from diagnosis through treatment, providing emotional support with people who share similar experiences.
For some women, it can make the difference between isolation and recovery through healthy relationships, according to the nonprofit’s website.
And that’s what the tournament emphasizes.
“There’s a lot of money invested in trying to find a cure for cancer,” Vawter said. “But in the meantime, women need help now and that’s what we are raising money for.”
The cause of the tournament is at the forefront of players’ minds.
“You meet the women and get to know them. But then there are some who don’t come back. That just makes people realize even more so how important this is.”
At the beginning of the tournament each year, there’s a dedication to a woman who has died from breast cancer or to an aspect of the cause in general, such as this year, which will be dedicated to women with stage-IV metastatic cancer, Vawter said. Stage IV is when the cancer begins spreading throughout the body and becomes difficult to control, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“You meet the women and get to know them,” Vawter said. “But then there are some who don’t come back. That just makes people realize even more so how important this is.”
To arrange the event, Vawter found she needed to start early to reserve a big enough course.
This year, she is passing the planning to Capozzi, who started with the non-profit in January.
“We aren’t trying to put together your typical golf tournament,” Vawter said. “We are trying to do things with an exclamation mark.”
The tournament requires entry fees of approximately $150 for an individual or $600 for a team. But registration fees are only the beginning of how they raise money, Vawter said.
At the Breast Ball tournament, players can pay extra to use mulligans, which are forms of cheating. Vawter’s favorite, “Golf Guns,” allows players to pay $10 to use a device that launches a golf ball through the course.
With sponsorship and donations, the tournament has gone from raising $4,000 in its first year to netting more than 12 times that amount last year.
“We had no idea it would continue to grow and turn out this way,” Vawter said. “It really makes my heart smile to think what it has become.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that the cost for a team is $600, not $500-600, and Here for the Girls offers peer support, not group counseling. Also, as originally published, the story mistakenly reported that using a women’s tee is a mulligan.