On Sept. 19, Cancer Support Community will be holding its "Wings of Hope" charity fundraiser. The event is free, but participants may sponsor a monarch butterfly in honor of a loved one for $35. The butterflies will be ceremonially released.
Associate Executive Director Dana Kaye said this is the second year the fundraiser has been held. In 2009, approximately 100 people attended, and raised over $12,000 for the group. This year, the group aims to increase attendance and raise $20,000.
Sandy Lewis, a community volunteer, is the chair of the 25-committee group that created the event, which will also include a boutique, children's activities and wine tasting. "Wings of Hope" butterflies come from a butterfly farm in El Dorado.
"Last year it was held on a 104-degree day, but it was so beautiful, with three baskets of butterflies and people telling personal stories," Lewis said.
At last year's event, one of the released butterflies landed on the hand of a woman who had recently lost her daughter to cancer. That image has been replicated in watercolor and is one of the boutique items this year.
"It's absolutely beautiful with the monarchs," Lewis said. "When people sponsor them, they can name them too. They really give people something to identify with. When the butterflies are released, people easily can go, 'Oh, there's Aunt Sue or Cousin Peggy, they're okay now.'"
Kaye said she hopes the event will become an annual tradition. Since it is organized by volunteers, all of the proceeds go toward funding cancer support services.
"It is a lovely event," she said. "Whether you know a cancer patient who has passed away, or someone who has been changed by cancer, the butterfly is a true symbol of the transformation."