Solheim Cup captains visit cancer survivors in Parker

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Chris Michlewicz
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The economic benefits that come with a major golf tournament in Parker are expected to be far-reaching. Social and emotional advantages can now be added to the list.

Ever since the August 2009 announcement that Parker’s Colorado Golf Club was selected to host the 2013 Solheim Cup, town leaders and local business owners have been preparing for the arrival of approximately 120,000 spectators. The Solheim Cup, scheduled for Aug. 13-18, pits the top professional ladies golfers from the United States against those who hail from Europe.

The prestigious event, much like the PGA’s Ryder Cup, occurs only once every four years in the U.S., and the captain and assistant captain of the home team, LPGA legends Meg Mallon and Dottie Pepper, are making the most of it. They stopped by Parker Adventist Hospital’s Trio Breast Center on Feb. 6 to get a glimpse of the beneficiary of a fundraiser called “Solheim After Sundown,” a gathering for golf fans that includes access to the three-day tournament, silent and live auctions, dinner and live entertainment.

During their visit, Mallon and Pepper had the opportunity to meet with former patients who have been forever changed by the thoughtful and thorough treatment at the Trio Breast Center, as well as the doctors and nurses who provide prevention services and care.

Pepper frequently dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as each survivor stood at the front of the room and told her story. Pepper said she was heartened by the personal touch shown by the Trio team and impressed that Parker Adventist has one section of the hospital that acts as a “security blanket” for those enduring breast cancer treatments.

“You hear about it or read it in a tournament profile or you see the signage at the tournament, but it’s not very often that you actually get to go see what happens, and I think that’s the moving part,” Pepper said.

Morre Dean, Parker Adventist’s president and chief executive officer, said the fundraiser, scheduled for Aug. 13, could generate as much as $100,000 to support programming and education, as well as provide mammograms for women who can’t afford the routine screenings.

Linda Power, a 38-year-old Castle Rock mother who gave birth shortly before her breast cancer diagnosis two months ago, elicited a fresh stream of tears from the small crowd as she recounted her journey. Her words reflected her refuse-to-give-up sense of determination.

“When you have young kids, you can’t let it get you down,” she said.

Power, a golf fan who plays regularly, confidently revealed her head, which has gone bald from cancer treatments, and joked about how manageable her hair has become. Power was among a line of women who talked about their steadfast allegiance to the team that helped them overcome their illness.

Pepper and Mallon, along with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, stayed and joked around with the current and former patients, including Gigi McCleery, a bright-spirited Parker woman who helped inspire the guests. They also posed for pictures with the crystal Solheim Cup, and shared an adorable photographic moment with a shy 5-year-old from Parker named Annika Edson.

For more information about “Solheim After Sundown” or the 2013 Solheim Cup, visit www.solheimcup.com.