Since 1985, October has been proclaimed breast cancer awareness month. It’s traditionally a time to highlight information and fund raising for research into the disease’s cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. The key to saving lives is early detection.

Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation is a announcing a number of local opportunities and events to commemorate this year’s breast cancer awareness month and help raise funds for early detection.

On Saturday, October 21, Sauk Valley Pink Heals Tour will be making a stop at the Vinton Fire Station from 11 am to 2 pm. A pink fire engine will be on display that serves as a canvas for thousands of people to sign their names or offer words of support. It is manned by a dedicated crew of volunteers who offer support to people whose lives have been touched by cancer.

The Third Annual Playing for a Cure BINGO event, hosted by Vinton-Shellsburg High School, is scheduled for Sunday, October 22 at the Vinton-Shellsburg High School, located at 210 W 21st Street in Vinton, from 2-4 pm (doors will open at 1:30 pm). Participants can spend an afternoon playing BINGO with 100% of the proceeds going to the VGHHCF’s “Gifts of Hope” fund. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Another October opportunity to assist in raising funds for “Gifts of Hope” comes from Teresa Erger’s REFIT® class held each Tuesday and Thursday evening at the Vinton Skate Center. This group chooses a different organization each month to donate their proceeds beyond operating costs. Additional information about this class can be found on the REFIT® facebook page, /bethechangeterger.

And, finally, anyone who receives a mammogram at Virginia Gay Hospital’s Imaging/X-Ray Department in the month of October will receive a free gift bag while supplies last.

For those who may not be familiar, “Gifts of Hope” is a local program brought to the community by Virginia Gay Hospital and the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation that provides free mammograms and diagnostic services to those who need financial assistance. It will pay for a clinic visit, testing, and diagnostic analysis of those tests to determine next steps, as well as Pap tests and/or pelvic exams. Funds are meant for people who have no insurance; have a health insurance policy that does not pay for these services; and those who cannot pay deductible or co-insurance amounts. No application is necessary to receive assistance from this fund. Patients just need to mention their need to a primary care provider at one of Virginia Gay Hospitals primary care clinics located in Atkins, Urbana, Van Horne or Vinton. “Gifts of Hope” has received enormous support for this program from the Murphy Memorial Golf Tournament and the Benton County Survivor Group.

To learn more about Gift of Hope, visit the VGHHCF’s Gifts of Hope web page. If you would like to make a donation to Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Fondation’s Gifts of Hope fund, please click here. To learn more about Virginia Gay Hospital and its primary health care clinics, visit www.myvgh.org.