Gloria Gemma Flames of Hope on Columbus Day weekend
Downtown Providence will turn pink this Columbus Day weekend from Oct. 5-7, as more than 100,000 Rhode Islanders take in educational exhibits, health screenings, food, arts, crafts, music, shopping and more for Flames of Hope. The focus of this year’s event, “Breast cancer is not just your grandmother’s disease” is a slogan designed to highlight the younger face of the illness.
Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life begins with a kickoff event and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. at the downtown Providence Marriott, located at 1 Orms Street. Free and open to the public, this event includes the 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” calendar unveiling. Sponsored by Gem Plumbing, South County Hospital and RI Rehabilitation Center, the 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” calendar features 12 Rhode Island women, each of whom received a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 40.
On Oct. 6, at noon, Flames of Hope continues with the official opening of Celebration Village. Located in Station Park, across Francis Street from Providence Place Mall, Celebration Village consists of several tents, each with a different focus.
The Education and Wellness Pavilion is an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to meet and learn from representatives of area hospitals and health care providers. The Interactive Health Zone will feature free health screenings and innovative health and wellness products.
The Garden of Hope will focus on the Foundation’s new horticultural therapy program, in collaboration with Craig Marciniak of Cumberland-based Tranquil Water Gardens.
The Mastery Amphitheater will include the popular “Breaking Boards for Breast Cancer,” demonstrations, and instruction from Smithfield-based Mastery Martial Arts.
The Healing Arts Pavilion is a chance for visitors to contribute to the Foundation’s Starfish Project, a massive ongoing public art installation. The Kitchen Stadium also opens at noon and will include healthy cooking demonstrations by local vendors and two appearances by Michelle Ragussis of “Food Network Star” fame – one at 1 p.m. and another at 4 p.m. The official launch of a Foundation-published and survivor-penned cookbook, “A Gem of a Cookbook,” will also take place in the Pavilion.
At dusk, around 6:30 p.m., Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo will join breast cancer survivors and their loved ones at the Illuminations of Life Ceremony, the pinnacle event of the weekend. During her reign, Culpo plans to raise awareness and encourage research related to both ovarian cancer and breast cancer, the third leading cause of death from cancer in Rhode Island, Culpo’s home state. From the State House, bathed in pink light for the event, participants will carry torches to the Providence River basin in memory of those who have lost their battles to breast cancer and to light the way for those who have yet to begin their journeys. Sponsored by National Grid, the Illuminations of Life Ceremony concludes with one of the biggest and brightest WaterFire lightings of the year. This year, the Illuminations of Life Ceremony will feature special performances by vocalist John Pagano, a Rhode Island native who has been performing with Burt Bacharach for over 10 years.
The ARS Pink Party begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $25 and includes light fare, live music and dancing. Proceeds benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. To purchase tickets, call 861-HERO (4376).
The Saturday night main stage headliner this year is Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez. The voice of the Saturday Night Live Band for over two decades will take the stage with her band at 8 p.m. The main stage performance is free and open to the public.
On Oct. 7, at 11:15 a.m., Culpo will compete alongside teammates from Bay View Academy, where she attended high school, in the Gloria Gemma 5K, the Foundation’s biggest fundraising event of the year. The Gloria Gemma Kids 1K, new this year and sponsored by Macy’s, begins an hour earlier at 10:15 a.m.
For information on how to run or walk in the Gloria Gemma 5K or Kids 1K, or contribute to the ongoing fundraising efforts, visit gloriagemma5k.org. To participate in or support the Illuminations of Life Ceremony, visit torch.gloriagemma.org. To volunteer, visit volunteer.gloriagemma.org. To become an event sponsor or vendor, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.