Local mom celebrates being cancer free!

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On Saturday, May 18, MOMS Club of Mint Hill held a Cake Walk Fundraiser to benefit member Jinna Bryant, who was diagnosed last November with breast cancer.

The Cake Walk was held at Rocky River Vineyards and featured raffled baskets and VIP tables.

Happily, the event, which has been in the works since Bryant was receiving chemotherapy, became more than just a fundraiser.  After completing six rounds of chemotherapy, which successfully shrank her carcinoma by 95%, and surgery to remove the remaining cancer and residual tissue, Bryant is beyond excited to celebrate being cancer-free!

The idea for a cake walk, a sort-of “musical chairs” game where you pay to enter for the chance to win a cake, came from MOMS Club member Amanda Francis, who was one of the key organizers of the event.  “The idea of the Cake Walk came to me when I thought back on the fundraisers done when I had my stroke,” says Francis. “My church family in Georgia did a cake walk for me. I thought it was a pretty cool idea that’s a lot of fun also!”

Bryant was thrilled to win a pink champagne cake made by friend and MOMS Club member Stephanie Logeman.

Francis’ own experience suffering through a medical crisis at a young age fueled her desire to help Bryant.  “Going through my stroke at a young age made me realize that I should be thankful for everything that I have, and I want to help others that are going through the similar situations where money is tight because of medical bills, too.”

“I can only imagine how hard it is to hear the words ‘You have cancer,’” says Jennifer Monroe, who was also critical to organizing the event.  “So many thoughts must run through your head, but the last thing you should have to worry about is how you are going to pay the medical bills. I wanted to be able to take some of the financial burden off Jinna’s shoulders and just show her how much we care.”

Francis and friends from the MOMS Club began with the simple idea of a Cake Walk at a local church facility, but as they started planning, the fundraiser quickly morphed into something much bigger.  A miscommunication about use of the church facility turned out to be a blessing in disguise when Rocky River Vineyard offered their facilities to the club free of charge.

The kid-friendly event featured kids’ games and plenty of space to run around.

“This sparked a lot of interest in MOMS Club,” says Monroe, who started to think bigger.  “With a beautiful venue that offers great wine, we thought we had a great opportunity to make this a big fundraiser and raise a good chunk of money to help with Jinna’s medical bills.”

With Rocky River’s event space in play, the organizers decided to incorporate VIP tables.  The $75 pre-purchased tables situated in the vineyard’s covered event pavilion, included two bottles of Rocky River Vineyards wine and a snack plate.  MOMS Club president Allison Towner suggested a raffle, and Monroe’s own mother suggested a 50/50 raffle, where participants pay for a chance to win half the pot.

The Cake Walk featured both homemade cakes baked by MOMS Club members and professional cakes donated by local businesses.  Daphne’s Bakery, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sassy Cakes, Food Lion and Trader Joe’s all donated cakes. Eureka Realty donated the cake boxes for winners to transport their delicious winnings home.

MOMS Club members banded together to provide items for the raffle baskets as well as solicit donations from local businesses. Raffle items included services provided by MOMS Club members, like a photography package and a custom t-shirt quilt, and themed baskets like “Taco Night” and “Wine Down.”  The event also featured food from A Pinch of Soul food truck and jewelry from Bling and Blessings.

A Pinch of Soul food truck was on site for lunch.

The Cake Walk raised $2000.00 for Jinna and her family, which will go directly to the Bryant family to help with medical bills and other expenses.  It was not only a successful fundraiser but also a fun day to celebrate together.

“I was amazed  how a community came together to support Jinna,” says Monroe.  “This fundraiser was made possible because of a lot of people chipping in, whether that be by designing flyers, pulling permits, asking for donations, giving donations – the list goes on and on. It was truly heartwarming seeing all the support for a local mom.”

The event was not just a fundraiser but also a celebration of the successful completion of Bryant’s cancer treatment.

Although she’s officially cancer-free, Bryant isn’t quite finished with treatment yet.  After a recovery period following her lumpectomy, Bryant will have four weeks of radiation.  She’ll also continue twelve more Herceptin treatments to rid her body of the Hers-2 protein responsible for the cancer’s growth.  But for now, the future looks bright.

The Bryant family.

Me knowing that all the cancer that was in my body is removed means I can breath!” says Bryant, who celebrated on Saturday alongside the family that has accompanied her on this journey.  “My family can get back to somewhat-normal. The Cake Walk for me was a celebration of being done with the chemo and lumpectomy, and knowing that the carcinoma is out of my body! All of the amazing women in MOMS Club coming together to throw this cake walk for my family is truly inspirational and humbling.”

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: marybeth@minthilltimes.com