Who knew what taking a break with friends could turn into?

Photo of Dr. Helen Chew and Carol Garcia Helen Chew (left), director of the UC Davis Breast Cancer Program, is recognized with the 2007 Find a Cure Award by Carol Garcia, chair of the South Placer UCD Breast Cancer Endowment.

Carol Garcia, Teri Munger and Laurinda Stoody were friends in the Roseville-Folsom area who got together once a month for dinner, a movie and updates on their lives. It was how they stayed in touch in the midst of busy schedules.

They discovered, though, that they had an unexpected — and serious — connection.

"Too frequently we would end up talking about breast cancer — someone's mom dying of breast cancer, a good friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer or even one of us recovering from breast cancer," said Garcia. "We decided that we were having the conversation much too frequently, and that had to change."

So the friends — all successful business women — turned their acumen into activism. They pulled together family, friends, community leaders and colleagues and started the South Placer UCD Breast Cancer Endowment in July 2005. Their goal is to fully fund the Breast Cancer Endowed Chair at the UC Davis Cancer Center by raising $1.5 million by 2010.

Photo of Ralph deVere White"We are deeply honored by the South Placer team's determination to support our breast cancer research."
— Ralph deVere White, UC Davis Cancer Center director

"We decided on an endowment because it will allow UC Davis breast cancer scientists to focus on their research full-time rather than spend precious resources fundraising," said Garcia, who serves as chair of the endowment. "We look forward to the day when we can present the full amount to the UC Davis Cancer Center and the brilliant medical staff and faculty that comprise its research team."

They are well on the way to that day. Proceeds from events such as the annual Pink and White Ball, which quickly became a "must go" event, and private donations helped them celebrate an important recent milestone: raising one-third of their goal in just two years.

Photo of South Placer Endowment group Endowment members give thanks to Stephen Des Jardins, owner of La Provence restaurant and sponsor of the group's annual Signe King Memorial Dinner.

"We are deeply honored by the South Placer team's determination to support our breast cancer research," said Ralph deVere White, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center. "The UC Davis breast cancer research program is comprehensive — from identifying the cellular beginnings of the disease to testing the effectiveness of promising new treatments. Funding from the endowment will definitely help speed the progress of and expands those efforts."

The endowment team is now focusing on the next fundraising milestone. They accepted a check last week for $5,000 from a new Roseville business, Total Wine & More. Company management chose the beneficiary of their community support funds based on guidance from the Roseville mayor.

"I made my recommendation because cancer research is an extremely important cause in need of funding, and the research at UC Davis is vital to making progress in the fight against the disease," said Mayor Jim Gray. "There is also a very strong network of women in South Placer, including my fellow city councilmember and cancer survivor Carol Garcia, that is leading the charge in fundraising and awareness in my community. I want to support those efforts in every way."

Plans for two upcoming endowment events are under way. The Second Annual Signe King Memorial Dinner will be held in May at La Provence Restaurant and the third annual Pink and White Ball will be held in October at the Granite Bay Country Club. Interested community members are welcome to get involved. For more information, visit www.wethinkpink.org.