September 11, 2017 Program and Events


Irene Sawyer-Founder

At the Rotary meeting, September 11, 2017, Irene Sawyer told her story of surviving breast cancer and the High Country Run/Walk scheduled for October 28th. Irene was an interesting presenter remarking she has a Chemo Brain and is a Blond and that during her presentation, she may forget where she is. That never happened as she provided facts and figures to emphasize the seriousness of this terrible disease. Irene told us that one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. In the United States there are 220,000 women die each year, after being diagnosed with this condition. Interestingly, while we normally associate breast cancer with women, 140 men will die this year with this disease. (Editor note: A friend of mine and a brother to Jane Rogers here in Blowing Rock, David Bolick, Professional Golfer, recently passed away with this very condition).

Irene said she was diagnosed in December of 2010. While sitting watching a football game with her husband, she told him of a small bump on her chest. Thinking it might be a mosquito bite, but not taking any chances, she had it checked out and sure enough it was a malignant tumor. 18 months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy with restructuring surgery, she now says she is cancer free, largely because of the early detection and her faith in God. No one fights alone, she said, there must be personal support groups, other survivors, community assistance, and passion in order to go through this process.

Irene is passionate about this cause, so much so, she has organized a 501c foundation to support those in the High Country who need assistance.  She has organized a run/walk for October 28th, which will start at 9:00 a.m. at the American Legion Hall, Blowing Rock, and wind its way through and around Laurel Lane, Mayview, and finally back to the Legion Hall. The entry fee is $20 and there are sponsorships available ranging from $250 to $5,000. Several Rotarians expressed an interest to adding their business to the sponsors list, along with Kenneth Werhmann’s  Monkees, already a sponsor. Irene said 100% of the money is plowed into scholarships, which include: Child Care, Pet Therapy, Support Groups, Wigs/Hats, Classes for Caregivers, Transportation Services, Career Workshops, Art Therapy, Nutritional Education and End of Life Support. None of the money is spent on staff, all workers volunteer their time and the money never leaves the High Country.