By Toby Klein Greenwald
Everything is timing.
The day after I was happily marking four years since my operation for breast cancer (a lumpectomy, thank G-d I’m fine now), I was told by a friend about an event happening in the Five Towns for the Play for P.I.N.K. organization, and it spoke to me personally.
Their website tells us they are “dedicated to giving people with breast cancer longer lives and better outcomes, donating 100% of funds raised to breast cancer research.” They claim that 30,000 people a year “turn their passion for play into lifesaving advances in breast cancer research.”
They have found a new and original way to solicit funds. It is done by organizing sporting and lifestyle events to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. They raise approximately $4.9 million annually “to bring about breakthroughs in detection, treatment, prevention and survivorship.”
So what is the Five Towns connection?
A 4-day event, with golf and tennis, starting July 6, will be held at the Lawrence Yacht and Country Club. The main day event with luncheon, awards and raffles is Wednesday, July7, 2021. Paris (Penina) Popack, a mover and shaker behind the event, says
this event is held at clubs across the country and LYCC chose Play for P.I.N.K. as their main charity because 100% of the money raised goes to breast cancer research.
I interviewed Ms. Popack on the topic.
How many years has the 5 Towns held this event and why you?
“It had been a long-standing event at LYCC Chaired by Jackie Handel. I jumped in because my friend, Jackie asked me to bring in tennis as I was President of the Women’s Club at the time. Jackie Handel is the Chairwoman. Theresa Pappalardo is the Golf Chair and I’m the Tennis and Raffle Chair.
“LYCC hosts the charity Play for P.I.N.K. that raises money through playing competitive sports like Golf and Tennis. I supply custom designed t-shirts from Holly Greene and hats to all tennis players along with a swag bag that usually includes an Estee Lauder product. There is a light breakfast and registration followed by drone photography and start times for all the events. Around 1P.M. an elegant luncheon is served in the ballroom for all entrants, crystal paperweight awards are given to winners and a grand raffle is the finale.
“This event would not take place or be successful without the pros, the players, sponsors and staff. We have an amazing general manager, Gory Menking, a dedicated caring golf pro, Peter Procops and his staff who organize the golf day. Our tennis pro is Chris Morales, and his assistants, Maribel Morales and Messiah who work day and night to prepare the courts, hang banners and organize the tennis games. Our caterer, The Royalton, Michael and Arturo, aim to please with delicious food and presentation.”
You told me you got involved in this project in 2017. Why?
“I was asked to rally the tennis club because I wanted to help raise money for a worthy cause and bring awareness to the fact that breast cancer affects both men and women. I want to know that I am making a difference improving the quality of life for people in my community fighting this disease and beyond.” She is the Tennis Chair and Raffle Chair for the event and also designed various marketing posters and banners that go up on the tennis courts as part of their fundraising mission.
How do you raise funding for this particular project?
“We raise money through entry fees, golf tee and greens signs, banners (personal or business) that are hung on the tennis courts for 3 weeks, sponsorships and raffles.” They will consider the event successful, “If the participants enjoy their experience and we raise a significant amount of money that will contribute to the overall fund. Joining forces with clubs around the nation all aiming to find a cure.”
Having been involved in fund-raisers myself, I know that in order for them to succeed, they need the right personalities moving them forward, so I was curious about what else Ms. Popack has done. She told me she has held roles as an LYCC Park Commissioner, LYCC Women’s Tennis Club President, and Lawrence Association President. Currently she is an LCFD Memorial Day Parade organizer, local and national and international charitable projects, and a Village of Lawrence Trustee. “It’s an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to work as an event planner on this cause,” she says.
What advice can you give to event organizers and people who want to run a successful fundraiser?
“Put your heart and soul into whatever you do, surround yourself with positive like-minded people and be willing to roll up your sleeves.” She says she manages to juggle everything by getting enough sleep, taking vitamins, having a supportive family and being organized.”
Have you ever met someone personally who had breast cancer?
“Sadly, I have known people throughout my life who have had breast cancer. Many survivors and some who have been taken. It’s a cause that I really support. It’s helped deepen my value of life and good health. This particular event has connected me to countless people that fight the fight.”
She adds, “Raffle tickets are still available for about 30 raffle packages, or people can donate to this wonderful cause, please call 516-375-3249. We need the support of our community to help find a cure for breast cancer.”
Well, having been there, done that, all I can say is, thank you to the community of the Five Towns.
The writer is the award-winning theater director of Raise Your Spirits Theatre and editor-in-chief of WholeFamily.com. She was the recipient of an American Jewish Press Association Award for her own first-person essay on breast cancer, “After Breast Cancer: Time to Sing a New Song.”