By Greg Gulas
The inaugural Yellow Brick Place-Rose Mary Flanagan Ovarian Cancer Foundation Memorial Golf Outing is set for July 14 at the Squaw Creek-Avalon Golf and Country Club, 761 Youngstown-Kingsville Road S.E. in Vienna.
The goal of the outing is to raise funds for both organizations while drawing attention to the multiple services provided for those fighting cancer.
A 501c3 organization, the event’s corporate sponsor is the Cafaro Foundation and it is the committee’s goal to attract 32 teams or 128 total golfers.
The top four finishers will automatically qualify for this year’s Greatest Golfer of the Valley competition in August.
The golf outing is named in memory of Jennie Benigas, a 17-year employee of the Cafaro Company and one of the YBP’s very first volunteers, who recently passed away after a courageous fight with ovarian cancer.
Nancy Connors, a 21-year breast cancer survivor, serves YBP as its administrative assistant. She credits a chance meeting with Donna Detwiler — who worked in pediatric oncology for over 20 years and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2003 before passing away last month — for her association with the group.
“When you go through cancer you realize the obvious, such as the cost of gas when driving to and from your treatments, having to miss work and how hard it becomes to pay your house and utility bills,” Connors said. “We don’t offer financial help, but we help with advice and it’s Donna’s brother, Matt Giambattista, who helps us out tremendously in that area.”
Yellow Brick Place is the only cancer wellness center serving the tri-county area, offering several support groups including prostate, multiple myeloma, colorectal and caregivers.
A breast cancer support group will soon be added as they continue to work with all organizations that are affiliated with the American Cancer Society.
Their office, located at 2959 Canfield Rd. (Suites No. 3 and No. 10) on Youngstown’s West Side, also includes a wig bank.
“We have free wigs and free reiki treatments; a hands off massage in which you absolutely feel the energy,” said Carol Apinas, YBP board president and volunteer from Salem who is a retired speech pathologist and stage 3 breast cancer survivor.
“Jenny and Donna were always so giving, compassionate and kind and both continued to reach out to others until their final days. Neither would complain, remained positive and always had a smile on their faces. The goal is to find volunteers to help administer what we offer with massage therapists highest in demand.”
Angela Palumbo of Liberty, a retired nurse and cancer survivor, is also a volunteer and board member.
“Because we are a non-profit organization, we depend on grants, donations and fundraisers like this golf outing in order to stay afloat,” Palumbo said. “Our services are non-medical so we are here to lend support to those fighting cancer and also their families during their journey. It’s important to get the word out and let the public know that we are there for those who can use our help.”
Erin Lonsway of Boardman is a flight attendant with Delta Airlines who volunteers with their chair yoga program.
“I run the Rose Mary Flanagan Ovarian Cancer Foundation and my mother always felt that it was important to help those through their diagnosis, so partnering with YBP was just natural,” Lonsway said. “Gentle yoga in a chair is for those who aren’t as mobile on a mat or the floor, yet experience the same results.”
Cost is $150 per golfer, which includes GPS cart, unlimited use of the practice range, locker room access, all amenities the day of the event as well as breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks.
A hole-in-one contest, sponsored by Taylor Kia of Boardman, wins a Kia Cadenza with prizes awarded for first, second and third place, as well as for longest drive and closest to the pin.
A 50-50 raffle will be conducted.
“This was the vision of my sister and she thought that we should do this golf outing in Jennie’s memory,” said Giambattista, longtime area high school and sandlot baseball coach. “This took about a year to plan so the committee is to be applauded for the efforts.”
Registration opens at 9 a.m. with an 11 a.m. shotgun start.
Further entry information and sponsorship options can be obtained by calling 234-228-9550.