Few people are as passionate and committed to their beliefs and ideas as Susan Groves. She has been an avid supporter of increasing awareness and raising funds for breast cancer research and treatment for under-served women for years – making life better for those around her.Struck by the staggering statistic that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime sent Susan on a life-long journey for the cause. As a single mother to a teenage daughter, Susan also wants to protect her daughter in every way possible.
Annual Pink Tie Gala
Susan established Richmond’s Annual Pink Tie Gala five years ago so that any person, no matter their gender, age, health or financial status, could support the cause and enjoy it. For the past 5 years, she has made the Pink Tie Gala her life 12 months of the year. Her passion to raise funds for low income women who can’t otherwise afford it, is unmatched. She spends countless hours every week preparing for the annual event and brainstorming ways to make it even bigger and better than the previous event.
“I want people to know the importance of breast cancer and how easily it can change your life forever. So I’ve made it my life, I wear pink pretty much every day, my car is covered in pink ribbons and pink tie gala, I talk about it with every person I meet and I continue everyday to keep making people aware of breast cancer. My business has information packets, pink bracelets and anything I can find to make people take notice. I know we can achieve so much when we work together and I am committed to this cause because I know we can make a difference.”
Susan is truly passionate about her cause in every aspect of her life and she is an inspiration to everyone around her. Her name has become synonymous with the Pink Tie Gala and fund-raising for other important causes.
The first Pink Tie Gala was attended by about 100 people but that small turn-out did not deter Susan. She pushed ahead by scouring the community for supporters, soliciting financial and volunteer support, and planning for the next year’s event. She established a separate 501c3 charity to manage donations and 100% of the net proceeds go directly to the charity. She made sure that no one, including board members now or in the future, can ever be paid any amount of money from the charity – all profits are dedicated to the cause.
Today, the Annual Pink Tie Gala is an incredibly successful event with tickets usually selling out well before it takes place. It’s truly a gala event when men and women come dressed in formal attire and lots of pink.
Sponsors even come to Susan to offer help now. Doctors, lawyers, CEOs, insurance agents, homemakers, blue collar workers, stay-at-home moms, men and women all enjoy socializing together at the event while dancing, dining and celebrating life. Breast cancer survivors known as the “Celebration of Life Dancers” entertain and bring the crowd to its feet with applause and tears as they witness stories of hope and inspiration.
Impact on the community
Thanks to Susan, the impact on the community is incredible with 76% of every dollar going into programs and grants for people of the local community. The remaining balance goes to Komen National to fund research programs to find a cure.
Susan explains her drive and passion, “Without programs like free mammograms, these under-served women wouldn’t be able to have it done. They would be forced to do what they’ve always done and put their health and welfare second. I have been one of those women and I know there is always something more important, and a choice you have to make because of your situation. Your own health is never as important as someone else’s needs. Making breast cancer screening programs available to low income women is only part of this program. Education, awareness about self-examines, and letting women know that someone cares about their health is also important for these women.”
Pink Tie Gala has provided more than 450 free mammograms for women who would otherwise not be able to afford them. “It needs to be more. And I know I can do more and I will,” explains Susan.
When asked what she would do if she had $50,000, Susan was quick to respond. “There are so many programs I have thought of over the years that I wanted to try. Being one person has held me back more than anything; I wish the prize was more hours in a day. But when I think of the people I could reach with that money and the programs that would be funded, I get so excited. Rewards for mammograms, funding educational programs in high schools, mammogram parties at corporate offices, Pink Tie Gala t-shirts, and so many more things would only increase the awareness and giving within our community.”
Susan is obviously passionate and committed for life. “I’ve seen the difference this event makes in the lives of the people who participate, attend and sponsor, as well as in my life. In the past five years I’ve grown into a very different person and my relationship with my daughter is very different from most mothers. My daughter will tell you she is the heir to Pink Tie and it is our life --12 months of the year we live and breathe Pink Tie -- and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Richmonders wouldn’t have it any other way either Susan. Thank you!