When Samantha Shames learned that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she couldn’t control the illness. She could, however, control her actions – and she directed all her energy toward finding a cure.
The sophomore has been fundraising for breast cancer research for some time, but this year she started a student organization on campus to increase awareness about the disease. It’s called The Pink Ribbon.
For the past two years, Shames has been the number one fundraiser in the Revlon Run/Walk, a breast cancer fundraiser in New York. To date, she has raised more than $135,000 toward finding a cure for the disease.
Shames’ mother, Julie, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40 – and Samantha was in sixth grade.
“I’ve realized that my personal involvement has been my way of dealing with her past illness,” Samantha Shames said. “Instead of talking about it, I felt compelled to help fix it.”
When Shames came to GW, she realized there were no student organizations that specifically focused on breast cancer. So she decided to create one on her own, with help from her roommate, sophomore Maeve Duggan.
“Today my mom is healthy and cancer-free,” Shames said “But I hope that my work not only prevents others from going through what my family had to, but also inspires those touched by breast cancer to find a constructive way to deal with an emotionally turbulent time.”
Speaking about her roommate, Duggan said, “I’ve known Sami since last year and have always been really impressed by her fundraising and commitment.”
After waiting seven weeks for approval from the Student Activities Center, The Pink Ribbon was formally established a few weeks ago. The creators are optimistic that the organization, which is holding its first general body meeting Tuesday in the Marvin Center, will succeed.
“Although we are just starting out, I would like to see the club grow to have more of a presence on campus and in the community,” said Kerry Fore, the club’s treasurer.
The club plans to establish a cheering station for the May Avon walk in D.C., as well as host a fashion show and other fundraising events on campus in the future.
“We’re hoping to get more kids from our generation involved because it is something that will affect our generation if we don’t start raising awareness now,” Shames said.