Husband and wife team, Marlene and Alan Comella, have organized an annual BCRF fundraiser that has donated over $116,000.

Marlene and Alan Comella were looking at pink flowers when an idea blossomed. The couple, who own a flower shop in Berwyn, Illinois, decided to start a local fundraiser to support breast cancer research in honor of loved ones who had recently been diagnosed and lost their lives to the disease.

“We know research is key. BCRF’s mission has become our mission,” Marlene says.

The fundraiser, called Flowers for Hope, has raised more than $116,000 in the past nine years. The annual event includes live entertainment, a raffle, bake sale and more to raise funds for research.

“It takes a village to pull this off and we have found Berwyn is a community that cares. Each year we’ve raised more money,” Marlene said.

For many, the cause is close to their hearts. Marlene lost two friends to the disease recently: Kathleen and Kathleen’s sister, Marianna. The event’s co-committee member, Kim Smith, has been in remission for 11 years.

“It’s because of research she has this title,” Marlene said.

Keeping the event going year after year has been a difficult undertaking. The event’s lead guitarist passed away from leukemia. Al underwent a quintuple bypass surgery. Marlene needed a knee replacement and her sister was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Yet the community remains committed to supporting research.

“Because of this we were unable to host last year’s event, yet we still raised $10,000,” Marlene said.

Despite these hardships, the couple remains committed to the cause.

“I don’t feel any of this has been in vain,” Marlene says. “We know research is the key. Research is where the ultimate cure lies.”

 

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