Brawley Cancer Walk group wraps up with celebratory dinner

In a Brawley Cancer Walk group photo, (left) Erasmo Gonzalez, president and board director, Oreda Chin, executive director and a 35-year cancer survivor, and Joseph Ramirez, Cancer Walk organizer, all gather with rest of the committee at the event wrap up dinner to thank the Cancer Walk committee.

BRAWLEY – The Imperial Valley Cancer Support Center held its annual wrap up dinner Wednesday evening at the Hidalgo Hall, conveying with happy, tear-filled eyes to the committee and team members their opinion of the success of the first annual Brawley Cancer Walk.

IVCSC held its inaugural annual Brawley Cancer Walk this past May at the Brawley Cattle Call Arena. With just a couple of months to plan, and going against all odds, the event raised over $20,000, organizers said.

“It is heart-breaking to see how many people, women and men now too, come in that haven’t had any help before, and now because of your effort we are able to give them support,” said President Erasmo Gonzalez as he addressed the Cancer Walk committee.

“Had it not been for this money raised with all your hard work, our doors would probably have had to close back in April,” said Oreda Chin, executive director. “It’s a day-to-day struggle to keep our doors open, because that is how we exist – by donations.” Chin is also the only prostheses and lymphedema garment fitter in the Imperial County.

In an effort to be able to provide different types of services for patients here in the Valley so they do not have to drive to other areas, leave, Chin said she worked on getting her fitter certification to provide prostheses and lymphedema garments to patients here in their center amongst many other services.

“Don’t discount the services our center can provide for you. I want you to leave this center feeling whole,” said Chin.  “We allow our clients to pick out their own wig. When women leave us they have hair, breast, jewelry, scarfs and we are now doing eyebrows,” she added.

Not only does the center provide these services to Imperial County patients, but it also provides help for patients who do travel to San Diego for chemo or testing. Gas cards, meal cards and hotel stays are also some of the things the center helps struggling families with.

Despite the short timeline and a small amount of resources, Joseph Ramirez, Cancer Walk coordinator, said he is already looking at dates, fund raising and entertainment ideas for next year’s walk.

“I can’t wait ’til next time. It’s a lot of work and it’s never ending,” Ramirez said during his gratitude speech. “Before, my wife would tell me, ‘What are you doing now?’” he said. “And now she says, ‘What can we do to raise money?’  Sometimes late at night I think of an idea that can help and I get out of bed to write it down so I don’t forget,” he concluded.