Community gathers to show love and support for cancer victim

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Special to Dorchester Banner The Tricky Tray benefit held Sun., Nov. 8 drew over 500 people to support cancer fighter Heather Swann and her family.

EAST NEW MARKET — fishing, farming, fresh produce, and friendly folks. It is also known for unbelievably generous people who support friends in need. Over the years there have been scores of fundraisers for people who suffer from a major illness, primarily cancer. Most recently a group of friends, friends of friends, relatives, and the entire community held two successful events to support a family living with a cancer fighter.

Heather Swann is battling cancer. Fighting alongside her to beat this dreadful disease are her husband Mike, her children, her entire family and some very close friends. One fundraiser was held at Windy Way horse farm by owner Annie Trice; a second, at East New Market firehouse, was a Tricky Tray. Both benefitted Heather and both were upbeat, very successful events.

Five years ago when her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer Annie Trice wanted to “do something for a good cause.” The owner of Windy Way Horse Farm, this petite young woman is a source of boundless energy and creative ideas. The genesis of an annual cancer survivors’ benefit came from Annie’s attempts to connect her passion for and experience with horses to the community in which she, her husband, two children, dogs, cats, and lots of horses live.

The first event benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She connected with Women Supporting Women last year and this year she included cancer fighter Heather Swann in the proceeds. Annie says, “Her daughter took lessons here so we knew her. When we found out that she had breast cancer and her fight wasn’t exactly the easiest I thought this would be a really good thing to do for the family.”

The “Team Heather” event earned $3,900 this year before expenses. Annie explains that prior to the event people raised money in a variety of ways. This year Chloe Lord won the highest amount raised — $1,022. Annie says, “It is so awesome to see someone that young do it. It raises young people’s awareness of participating in a good cause. You never know when you or someone you love will need that kind of support.”

It cost $5 to enter each of several classes. Annie explains “We did 1st through 6th place in every class, including: Bra and Chain (known as “ball and chain” in horse shows), ribbon pattern, barrels and poles; plus an assisted class, youth, open, and senior classes. Then we did the obstacle course with pink obstacles.”

There were lots of vendors this year. The first vendor to attend the event and every year thereafter was Kathie Phillips whose bake table always sells out. “The first year we did it we didn’t have that many people and she still stayed the entire day,” explains Annie. “It’s nice to have a local cause to show people that your donations are going to someone close to home, or someone you might know, or you might know their kids.”

A Nov. 8 Tricky Tray event drew hundreds to support the young Swann family. Jessica Grim says, “Heather is my best friend. We’ve been friends since we were 5 years old so it’s over 30 years.” She explains that Mike has taken unpaid family leave from his job to accompany Heather to doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and unexpected hospital stays.

“Heather’s health is getting worse so I wanted to do something to help with those expenses. Since she loves bingos, and tricky trays I thought it would be a fun way to raise money. I have been to one tricky tray before this event and I wasn’t very familiar with anything so I just put it in God’s hands that He would provide and he certainly did.”

Two friends who had tricky tray experience helped Jessica coordinate the Nov. 8 event and were a “huge asset.”
Volunteers coordinated the food and the bake sale. “Everything was all God,” says Jessica. “It was amazing how everybody was there and I never wanted for anything during this whole process. It was wonderful.”

According to Hurlock Councilman Earl Murphy, “It was a great success!! Just on only the food sold, we raised $1,110. There were more than 214 items on the tricky tray list with 4 Grand prizes. They had a baked goods silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and more.”

A true wonder happened when the event drew over 500 people to the East New Market Volunteer Firehouse. The line of attendees wrapped around the room with more waiting outside. Asked how she reached the public, Jessica said it was entirely through Facebook and word-of-mouth.

As Jessica says, “I wanted to raise money, but I wanted mostly for her family to see how much support they have from everyone. Heather’s 6-year-old daughter said, ‘wow, I didn’t know my mommy knew so many people.’ It was such a wonderful thing for her family to see how supported they are.”

Somehow we know the Dorchester County community will continue to support friends and neighbors in this unique, Eastern Shore way.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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