Handbags sale for neuroblastoma scheduled for May

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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Neuroblastoma is not a very well known cancer but a group of women, including Sharon Hopkins from Prince Albert, are working to change that.

Last year Handbags for Hope raised $7,900, of which 87 per cent went to neuroblastoma research at the Genome Centre in Vancouver.

The Team 4 Hope is hosting its third annual Handbags For Hope at the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club on May 3 from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Basically what we do is ask for gently used handbags and this year scarves as donations and then we price these handbags and scarves and sell them for a reduced rate,” Hopkins said.

“Basically it is a big handbag sale and all money goes to neuroblastoma research.”

Neuroblastoma is a children’s cancer that mostly affects children under the age of two, she said, and not much is known about the disease.

“We compare it to leukemia -- neuroblastoma is where leukemia was 25 to 30 years ago,” Hopkins said. “Nobody knew about leukemia, no one was helping out leukemia and all of a sudden pharmaceutical companies got on board, other companies got on board.

“Now leukemia has a 94 per cent cure rate because a research team got on top of it and they found almost a cure,” she added.

About 70 children a year are diagnosed with the cancer, which only has a 20 per cent survival rate, she said.

“We are the only ones in Western Canada who are raising money for research on this,” Hopkins said. “The research is done in Vancouver at the Genome Centre.”

There is also a group in Eastern Canada supporting research in Ontario.

“We have two fantastic research teams who are doing their best to find some sort of a cure or plan of some sort to help these young kids get better and have a better success rate,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins’ sister-in-law Lisa started Team 4 Hope three years ago to raise awareness of neuroblastoma to celebrate her son being cancer-free for 10 years.

“She called me up one day and said, ‘I think I am going to do a full marathon in celebration of Jordan being cancer-free for 10 years,’” Hopkins said.

“Jordan is my nephew and he was not supposed to make his third birthday,” she added. “He was diagnosed when he was two years old with neuroblastoma and the doctor said all he had was hope -- get his affairs in order, he is not going to make it.”

Eight women got together and participated in the Nike Women’s Race in San Francisco. They have continued the tradition every year, running half or full marathons in Long Beach, Las Vegas and this year in New Mexico.

The Handbags for Hope event raises money for neuroblastoma -- about 87 per cent of the proceeds go to funding research, Hopkins said.

Although most of it goes to research, a small percentage helps fund the marathons, paying for their flights down, a hotel room and the entry fees.

The event, which raised $7,900 last year, accepts donations of handbags and scarves to sell at the event.

“Some people in the past have actually bought brand new Coach or Guess purses and donated them to us,” Hopkins said. “We put them on the silent auction tables and make a lot more money on the silent auction with those ones of course.

“On average, our purses range anywhere from $5 to $50 -- the $50 would be like a used brand name bag,” she added. “ People just donate whatever they want. We even have overnight bags, gym bags, that sort of thing. For the most part it is clutches and handbags and things like that.”

Tickets cost $20, which includes a free beverage and snacks at the event.

Hopkins said they are grateful for all the support they have had from local businesses, community members and others throughout the province.

“We have purses coming in from Estevan, from La Ronge, 25 from Fort Saskatchewan last weekend,” she said. “There are people not just from Prince Albert, but from the area that are really coming on board with this and trying to help us out.”

Anyone interested in donating a gently used handbag can contact Hopkins at 306-961-2600 or Jackie Hopkins at 306-961-2740. There are also drop-off points at Econo Lumber and Pure Effect Hair Salon.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Genome Centre

Geographic location: Jordan, Western Canada, Vancouver Eastern Canada Ontario San Francisco Long Beach Las Vegas New Mexico Estevan La Ronge Fort Saskatchewan

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  • Diana Birrell
    April 21, 2014 - 17:24

    Hi Sharon (and Lisa!) Congrats on your fundraising. What a fun idea! Also, congrats on your research work. You may not know that The James Fund, based in Ontario, has also been funding research at the BC Genome Science Centre. We have been working with Dr. Marco Marra for several years now. We are also funding neuroblastoma research at U of Calgary and U of Manitoba, as well as in 7 other countries around the world. The nb movement is really gaining momentum and, yes, we hope to become "the next leukemia" with 94% survival rates. It's our turn! All the best to the Hopkins clan. What a great celebration of Jordan's cure. Diana Birrell www.jamesfund.com