Breast Cancer Patient Has the Time of Her Life at Flames of Hope Event
From the moving ceremony to a private gondola ride with her best friend and their daughters, Cordeiro says the event was more amazing than she could have ever imagined.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, Bristol resident Laurie Cordeiro participated in the Flames of Hope held in Providence. Below, Cordeiro shares her experience at the touching event in her own words.
Saturday night was one of the most incredible and emotional nights of my life. To see all the survivors (both men and women), and their families talking and laughing prior to the ceremony while waiting for this wonderful event to begin, was a sight in itself.
The ceremony began with everyone carrying a lit candle down the path to an area in front of the main stage. The path was lined with hundreds of well wishers, some holding boards from the karate exhibition with everyone cheering us on. There were two of these karate boards that held my attention. One was from one-year-old Savannah Ling whose board said "I support Auntie Laurie" with hearts all over it. The second board was sent by an angel. It was of a sunflower with a lavender background.
The ceremony on stage was beautiful. From Barbara Morse the Mistress of Ceremonies, to the ballet dancers, the Edward Twins impersonating Barbara Streisand and Andre Bocelli singing "The Prayer", young singer Mike who sang "Hallelujah", to members of the Gemma family, the night was just spectacular! The very highlight of the evening for me was a very moving and inspiring speech given by a survivor named Therese Picard. In the telling of her story, her passion and zest for life had the tears pouring down my face! After the ceremony, we lined up and were given our torches. My daughter (who was given her own torch) and me with the others marched in procession down to the "Basin". We watched the others pour in from two sides and seeing the flames of hope by 150 survivors and family carrying torches in memory of someone, took your breath away.
Now here's the story of the most memorable, emotional, magical and spiritual moment of my life. While waiting on the back of the steps of the State House for the evening to begin, my friend Donna Genereux, and my daughter and I, were told to move to the beginning of the procession and to stay there. I had no idea what was going on, but apparently my daughter was made privy to what was going to take place.
After the ceremony on stage, the torch procession began with Donna, my daughter and myself. We ended our walk by standing on top of the basin bridge. I received a tap on my shoulder from Gary Calvino, the Director of Development at Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, to give my torch to a young lady and to follow him. Gary did the same to Donna. We both looked at one another and asked, "what's happening" and Gary responded to "just follow me" and he took both our hands like two little children. My daughter said to me, "Mom, it's alright. Just go and follow him!".
Off we went the three of us, through the crowd that were all heading to the basin, while we went in the opposite direction. Just when I thought I couldn't walk anymore, we stopped at this picnic table where our dear friend (who also has breast cancer) Michelle Renaud and her daughter Brooke were waiting.
Donna and I thought Michelle was our surprise, because we didn't expect her and her daughter to be here with us! We started crying and laughing at the same time. All of a sudden, Gary says to us, "Come on ladies, follow me". We walked down a few steps to a landing, where a beautiful gondola was waiting there for us! It took our breath away! Gary and the men from the gondola wrapped Donna and I up in blankets, made Michelle and her daughter comfortable on their seat, and off we went, heading back to the "Basin". When we passed under the bridge where initially we had stood with our torches, Gary told us to look up and said "This is for you!". We looked up and there was one of the Edward Twins, impersonating Andre Bocelli and he started singing "Ave Maria". This song, being my most favorite and inspirational song, brought me to tears. As a matter of fact, I don't think there was a dry eye on that boat!
Here we all were - the five us - being serenaded and in the center of the basin, surrounded by all the torches and the cheering of the crowd! The bowman steered us to this landing where the whole Gemma family were standing, and they were blowing kisses and waving to us! Donna and I were hugging and crying the whole time. I will never, ever, forget this night! This night would have been on the top of my bucket list had I ever known that such a night existed! I can't even talk about it today without tears coming to my eyes. I am SO grateful to Gary Calvino, Allison the event coordinator who orchestrated it, and the Gemma family who all made this special night happen.
Editor's Note: A special thank you to Laurie Cordeiro for submitting her photographs and experience at the event. Cordeiro is such a wonderful person that she was featured as our September "Amazing Person of the Month". You can meet her and the rest of the Gloria Gemma crew on Wednesday, Oct. 12 between 5:30 and 10 pm at Jacky's Galaxie during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.