Cancer Survivors Strut Stuff At 12th Annual Pampering Event At Belk’s Winter Haven
by James Coulter
Chris Hazelwood, Chair of the Winter Haven chapter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, fought the battle against cancer and won. In 2008, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but had long since become cancer-free.
Having been a cancer survivor for nearly a decade, she has used her time since then to help aid others in their personal battles against cancer. She accomplishes this through her organization and through events throughout the city, including the annual Pampering Event at Belk’s Winter Haven.
Hazelwood started the event back in 2008 when she was first diagnosed with cancer. Several other of her closest friends were also diagnosed with the disease. She wanted to do something to help them, so she convinced the manager at Belk’s in Winter Haven to start the event.
For the past 12 years, the annual pampering event has brought in vendors from local organizations within the community to provide care items and other services to help people in their personal fight against cancer, whether they or a loved one are diagnosed.
“We give back to the community,” Hazelwood said. “All these vendors are here just for them, all the people who are going through the challenge of battling cancer, they pick up tips and pamper them and help them along the way.”
The big finale of the event is the fashion show, where cancer survivors throughout the community celebrate their victory against the disease by modeling their best outfits on the runway. This year’s theme was Hollywood, with many outfits based on movie stars and popular movies.
Aside from offering helpful items and services to cancer patients and their families, the event also offers a cheerful atmosphere where they can uplift their spirits during a very challenging moment in their lives, Hazelwood said.
“They enjoy it is an upbeat event that gives back to everyone and anybody, and everyone feels like we are one here,” she said. “Everyone here has a really big heart. Everyone knows someone who has gone through cancer, is going through cancer, or knows someone who has cancer. They have a big heart, and they show up each year.”
The proceeds raised from the fashion show go directly towards benefiting the Winter Haven chapter of the American Cancer Society (ACS), which has been associated with the event since its inception, explained Cassandra Fridovich, Community Development Manager.
Hazelwood herself is the chair of the Winter Haven ACS’s annual event, Relay for Life, and has been associated with the organization for many years. As such, she is considered to be a highly valuable asset of the organization, especially with her pampering event raising proceeds for them, Fridovich said.
“I love coming and seeing all the cancer survivors and hearing their story,” she said. “I love seeing them come together for a good cause.”
Jen Wells of Cameo Split Ends Salon attended the event for the very first time this year. She helped cut hair to collect donations to help create wigs for cancer patients, as well as cut the hair for many patients going through cancer treatment.
“We collected two samples,” she said. “The people and that it is good for the community…I think it turned out amazing.”