Eating for a good cause at Cancer Society's Grand Sunday Brunch

November 08, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN -- Funkstown-area residents Joyce Artz and Kim Artz have been attending the American Cancer Society's Grand Sunday Brunch for years, long before either became a cancer survivor.

"When I was here last year, I didn't have any hair and I was going through chemo," said Kim Artz, 53, who was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 28, 2008. "I felt more visible because I was wearing a scarf and it was all just happening to me."

Artz, who found her cancer with a self-exam, has since had a lumpectomy, six chemo treatments and finished radiation on March 4. When her naturally peppered white hair grew back in, she decided not to color it, as she had before.

Her mother-in-law, Joyce Artz, 75, has been getting a table at the society's brunch fundraiser since the event's inception 20 years ago. Joyce is a six-year tongue-cancer survivor.


Joining them at their table at the Hager Hall Conference & Event Center off Dual Highway on Sunday was Joyce's son and Kim's husband, Doug Artz.

"You see a lot of people you know. It's amazing," said Doug Artz, 56.

When he had to have a cyst removed from his shoulder a few years ago, Artz said his wife changed his bandages. And when she was going through cancer treatment, he took care of her.

During chemo, it would take her awhile to decide what she could stomach eating and he would go get it, Kim Artz said.

One of the reasons Joyce Artz has been coming to the event so long is the man who came up with the idea for the fundraiser, Jim Shifler.

Shifler, 82, who lives south of Hagerstown, was serving on the society's board when he got the idea to start a fundraising brunch. Proceeds help pay for the society's patient services and programs, as well as cancer research.

He and his late wife, Ruth, enjoyed going out to eat on Sundays, Shifler said. Ruth Shifler died in 1973 from breast cancer, he said.

Last year's brunch raised $28,000 and organizers are hoping to do better this year, said Cindi Hawfield, a brunch committee member.

Approximately 650 people were expected to attend the Sunday brunch. Jim Shifler said he sold more than 400 of those tickets.

Dwight Scott, 78, a three-year prostate cancer survivor who lives in Jefferson, Md., said he went to the brunch to support a good cause and Shifler.

Scott completed his 50th year of coaching at Boonsboro High School last spring. He said Shifler has long been a loyal supporter of Boonsboro and its programs.

Ruth Howell, 80, a 15-year breast cancer survivor from Boonsboro, attended the brunch with her husband, Joseph.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to support it and it really makes me feel good to see so many people come out to support the drive," said Howell, who's been coming to the brunch for about 10 years.

Dustin Gordon attended the brunch for the first time Sunday thanks to tickets from a church member.

"I think it's nice. It's a good thing" and the food is good, said Gordon, 26, of the Boonsboro area.

His wife, Haley, 22, said she's been coming to the brunch since she was 5, attending with her parents and grandparents. Her grandmother, Geneva Boyer, had Hodgkin lymphoma and died in 2000.

Harold Semler, 48, a volunteer firefighter for Hagerstown, said his mother, Ruth Semler, died from breast cancer.

"Always like to donate money to a good cause like this," and to help find a cure, Semler said.

He and Tim McCoy wanted to get the word out about another American Cancer Society benefit, Celebrate the King for a Cause, which will be Jan. 8 at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge.

McCoy, 50, of Hagerstown, said he lost his wife, Mary-Jo, to lung cancer last May. He asked his friend, Kevin Booth, who is an Elvis tribute artist, to perform at his wife's service. Booth offered to work on a fundraiser and will perform at the event, which takes place on what would be Elvis Presley's 75th birthday.

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