Rose of Hope Luncheon draws 560 attendees


Actress Katie Holmes was the keynote speaker at the annual Rose of Hope Luncheon.

More than 560 people attended the Rose of Hope Luncheon in Fairfield on June 13 to support Bridgeport Hospital’s Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center. Exact proceeds, which are still being tabulated, are expected to set a new record for the 13-year-old event.

“The center’s staff gives hope to all who need it during a difficult time in their lives,” said stage and screen actress Katie Holmes, the keynote speaker, whose mother is an ovarian cancer survivor.

Introduced by Dr. Donna Twist, breast care center executive director, as a woman of “strength, power and courage,” Holmes, who appeared in Dawson’s Creek and Batman Begins, applauded the breast care center supporters on hand.

“I’m inspired by your lending a hand to make someone’s breast cancer journey a little easier,” Holmes said. “You make a difference by giving (breast cancer patients) one of the greatest gifts in life-hope.”

Twist presented the center’s annual Rose of Hope Award at the luncheon to People’s United Wealth Management for its 14 years of support. The award was accepted by John Barnes, president and chief executive officer of People’s United Bank.

The audience also heard from breast care center patient Catherine Simpson, a three-year cancer survivor and single mother whose health insurance was insufficient to pay her bills.

“By the grace of God and your care and support, I am now stronger than ever,” Simpson told the center’s staff and supporters. “I am someone whose life you saved. I am here talking to you because of your help.”

One of the area’s largest and most publicized fund-raisers, the Rose of Hope Luncheon serves as a source of money for the breast care center’s programs for women in need, including the Medically Underserved Initiative, which provides financial assistance to uninsured and underinsured women.

The co-chairs of this year’s luncheon were Linda Blackwell and Daneen Grabe, both of Fairfield. Both are active members of the center’s President’s Council and Advisory Board.

For the ninth consecutive year, the Rose of Hope Luncheon was held at the home of Patti and Tom Keegan in the Greenfield Hill section of Fairfield. The luncheon was sponsored by Connie DeMattia and the DeMattia Charitable Foundation. The lead corporate sponsor was People’s United Wealth Management, which has supported the luncheon for five years. Land Rover Milford was the lead supporter of the celebrity champagne reception preceding the luncheon.

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