Oakwood Women's Healthcare Classic raises more than $365,000

The rain was falling but spirits were soaring when the annual Oakwood Women’s Healthcare Classic returned last month.

The event, proudly presented by Drs. Harris, Birkhill, Wang, Songe & Associates, P.C., and Karen Colina Wilson Smithbauer, is now in its 21st year. Dolores Pfeffer of Grosse Ile, along with Bob and Nancy Zakar of Dearborn, co-chaired the event; Smithbauer, of Grosse Ile, and David Yates, MD, of Northville, served as honorary chairs.

The fundraiser was held simultaneously at the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club and at the Dearborn Country Club. Golfers, donors and sponsors generated $370,000 to support breast cancer programs at Oakwood Healthcare. The funds will help uninsured and underinsured women receive breast cancer screenings, transportation, wigs, education, and support they otherwise may not have available to them.

“It’s such a special event because every dollar we raise goes to women in the community who need it the most,” said Brian Connolly, president and CEO of Oakwood Healthcare. Connolly added, “These services can change the quality of their lives, particularly in the face of a devastating diagnosis.”

In addition to golf and both live and silent auctions, the event this year featured an appearance by Bob “the Bachelor” Guiney, a Riverview native, who appeared on the reality-based dating show, as well as on the Hoda & Kathy Lee hour of the Today Show.

“It was an honor to be here,” said Guiney. “I don’t think you can look around and see someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer.”

Janet Baracy, a Westland resident and 10-year cancer survivor, was the keynote speaker. Baracy stressed the importance of early detection. She said she initially thought she had a pulled muscle, but then felt a lump during a self exam and decided to go to the doctor right away. She was diagnosed with Stage III cancer and underwent chemotherapy within weeks.

“Don’t ever feel like you can’t make time,” she told the crowd. “If I had waited another three months for my next regularly scheduled appointment, it would have been too late for me.”

Now 10-years cancer-free, Baracy thanked the team at Oakwood that has compassionately cared for her since she was first diagnosed and lauded events like the Women’s Healthcare Classic, which help women who need those services.

Since it was founded 21 years ago, the Women’s Healthcare Classic has generated nearly $5.4 million in donations. Carla O’Malley, Executive Director and President of the Oakwood Foundation, said the funds have helped thousands of women throughout the two-decade history of the event.

“We are truly humbled by the financial support, event leadership and participation from many who have been personally touched by breast cancer,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley continued, “Dr. Yates is a great friend and passionate supporter of Oakwood, and his family has been personally touched by breast cancer, and Karen Smithbauer is a 10-year cancer survivor.”

As a result of Karen Smithbauer’s exceptional generosity and her desire that every woman receive the benefit of comprehensive, compassionate care, the Nurse Navigator program was established at Oakwood’s breast care centers in Wayne and Trenton, in addition to the existing Nurse Navigator program at Oakwood’s Dearborn facility.

The Nurse Navigator program provides ongoing guidance and support to cancer patients, their families and significant others, accompanying them through every aspect of their cancer journey and ensuring access to the information necessary to make the best possible decision about treatment choices, therapies and provide counsel and advice to improve the patient’s quality of life. Oakwood’s Nurse Navigator program continues to serve the needs of the community and touch lives every day.

For more information about Oakwood’s breast care programs, visit www.oakwood.org/breast-care-center-dearborn or call 1-800-543-WELL to schedule a mammogram.

“I’m living proof that it works,” Baracy said.

CUTLINES: Nancy Zakar (left) and Dolores Pfeffer, co-chairs of the Oakwood Women's Healthcare Classic,  and Carla O’Malley, executive director and president of the Oakwood Foundation, present a check to Oakwood President and CEO Brian Connolly. The donations have since increased to about $370,000.