Past the $800,000 mark and counting …
Anything for cancer care: that’s the Bosom Buddies mindset.
Since it was formed 15 years ago the group has raised more than $800,000 through its annual girls’ night in, which usually draws about 200 people.
Last year it donated $71,253 to the cancer charity PALS. Covid-19 scuppered the event this year; another anticipated fundraiser, the premiere of the latest James Bond film No Time to Die, has been postponed twice.
A silent auction is now under way while kids’ races of various distances take place on October 29 and a 5K fun walk/run for adults is planned for Halloween.
The events are buoyed by Bosom Buddies’ founder Christine Weatherhill who is hopeful that the group can raise a significant amount for PALS even with the year’s challenges.
Hannah Brackstone, Ms Weatherhill’s niece, joined the group in 2013. She was inspired by her aunt who, last year, was honoured with a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for her work with PALS and other causes.
“I signed up because I wanted to help,” she said. “We all know someone who’s been affected by cancer, whether it be a family member or a close friend.
“I thought the work she was doing was fantastic – the fundraising and bringing awareness to cancer care in Bermuda.”
Ms Weatherhill lost her mother, Flo Brackstone, to cancer in 1978. She hosted the first girls’ night in, for 12 women, in 2005.
Held annually at Ms Weatherhill’s home ever since, it’s an evening of games and prizes, cocktails, dinner and donations. Underneath it all is a strong message about cancer care.
Said Ms Brackstone: “It’s hard work what PALS do. I couldn’t do that. And so I salute the nurses and the staff that go into the homes and help the families.
“I have had friends who have had family members that have had PALS come in and help with their last days. It’s a hard time for everybody and I know it’s that much harder [because of Covid]. Even during lockdown they were still working. They were still doing all they had to do and they had to be that much more cautious; there were all these extra precautions because [people with cancer are] already vulnerable and you want them to be as healthy as they can.”
Among the items on offer in the silent auction: a week’s stay at a home in New Hampshire; a four-day stay at a New York apartment; the chance to walk inside the ropes at the Bermuda golf championship; a bonfire evening for 20.
“With Covid and all the restrictions we have transitioned to a silent auction online – and that’s going on now,” Ms Brackstone said. “When it’s at [my aunt’s] residence we raise anywhere from $70,000 to $80,000. I don’t think we’ll be able to replicate that online although we have some fantastic [things to bid for] – a week at a house in New Hampshire, a travel voucher, a week in Costa Rica …
“And then we also have a male auction. You can bid to spend a day with the Commissioner of Police; we have a personal trainer who will do a self-defence session for ten women; we have a chef who will come to your home and cook a meal for you …
“They’ve all volunteered their time, all to help raise funds for PALS.”
With limited opportunity to raise funds this year, the hope is that people who usually attend the girls’ night in the group holds every October, will still contribute to the cause.
“We had a quiz night planned at the beginning of March that didn’t happen. We were also hoping to host the James Bond premiere in April but when Covid happened we pushed that back to November and now it’s pushed back again to April.
“We’re very committed to raising funds for PALS and cancer care on the island so we’ve challenged other women to host their own girls’ night in event in their own private setting to help raise funds for cancer care, for PALS.”
Each of Bosom Buddies’ five committee members has agreed to do their part, Ms Brackstone added.
“We’re holding individual, smaller parties for 10 to 30 people because everything is just so scaled back this year. And we’re challenging others to do that as well.
“It doesn’t have to just be girls. We all have different themes, different ways of doing it. I’m having a Mad Hatter’s tea party, other people are just having people over and doing games … it’s all just to help raise funds. I’m asking my friends to come, to make a donation and the funds will go to PALS and we’re challenging women who always come and support us to do the same, to help us raise funds.”
For more information, or to bid on items in Bosom Buddies’ silent auction, visit bosombuddies.herokuapp.com. Look for @bermudabosombuddies on Facebook