Breast cancer fundraiser fights disease with a few good laughs
What was started in Charlotte in 2002 by a Wells Fargo team member has grown into a successful fundraiser in nine U.S. cities.
Boasting comedy legends and local acts, Susan G. Komen’s Laugh for the Cure, held in nine cities across the U.S., is making a dent in funding for breast health services and breast cancer research. The evening of family-friendly stand-up comedy has raised more than $1.25 million for Susan G. Komen and local affiliates since 2002.
The breast cancer fundraiser is the brainchild of Tammy Greyshock of Wells Fargo’s risk management team, who started the event as a local fundraiser in Charlotte, N.C.
Tammy’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986 when Tammy was 15 years old. Her mom’s diagnosis, and the diagnosis of her aunt, became the catalyst for her commitment to increasing breast health funding and awareness. “In my family, we used laughter and love to stay strong and fight the disease,” says Tammy. “We did that together, but I also knew I had to do more.”
So she participated in Race for the Cure, raised money for the cause, and quickly became an advocate for people affected by breast cancer.
Tammy saw that donations for breast cancer research and health services dropped each year after Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, so decided to try to help fill the gap in funding. With support from her husband Brian Heffron, the owner of Comedy Zone Worldwide, she created Laugh for the Cure.
Successful event expands to other cities
“Laugh for the Cure is a fantastic event,” says Lynda Anello, director of marketing and communications for Komen Charlotte. “It’s a lot of fun and makes a big difference. It also helps us connect with a group of people who may not participate in our more traditional fundraising activities.”
Tammy says, “The event raises much-needed funds, but it is also a way for us to come together as a community to support people affected by the disease, remember loved ones lost, and celebrate the survivors. For me, it’s a celebration of my mom and my Aunt Toni.”
The event was a huge success and quickly spread to eight other cities. Now approaching its 14th year in Charlotte, it has outgrown two venues and is quickly growing to capacity in a venue with more than 1,000 seats. Tammy passed the baton to the Charlotte affiliate and Tracey Bissell, volunteer event chair for Komen Charlotte and operations manager for Wells Fargo Securities, in 2012.
“We’ve taken a fun approach to spreading the word about breast cancer and early detection,” says Tracey, who supported her sister-in-law after her diagnosis. “I don’t want anyone else to have the same worries for their family that I’ve had.”
Wells Fargo has been a corporate sponsor of the event since 2011 and has contributed more than $75,000 to Susan G. Komen Charlotte. Team members have supported the event individually through personal donations and volunteering. Nationally, Wells Fargo provides funding to breast health organizations and supports their work through team member volunteers.
Lynda says, “This disease affects people 365 days a year, and with help from dedicated volunteers like Tammy and Tracey — and a thriving support community — we’re able to help year-round.”
In Charlotte, the 14th annual Laugh for the Cure will headline comedian Jon Reep in February 2015.