The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation is partnering with the Bristol Fourth of July Committee for a unique fundraising event on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The event, one hour before the Military, Civic and Firemen’s Parade, will kick off at the corner of Hope and Chestnut Streets.
Bristol was already bustling Monday morning as Laurie Cordeiro, one of the organizers behind the week’s festivities, took time out of her busy schedule to explain why this year’s Annual Fourth of July Celebration might just be her favorite one so far.
“Ever since I was little, growing up here in Bristol, the Fourth of July was my favorite time of year,” Cordeiro said. “It was bigger than my birthday.”
She added, “I always wanted to help make the magic happen.”
Cordeiro got her wish when she first joined the Bristol Fourth of July Committee in 1980. This year, she received word that she will be awarded life-member status. It was after being diagnosed in 2009 with triple negative breast cancer that Cordeiro became involved with the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, a Pawtucket-based non-profit organization that provides care, comfort, and information to Rhode Islanders affected by breast cancer.
Now, as a Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation team member, Bristol native Laurie Cordeiro is witnessing a first-ever fusion of these two vital pieces of her life.
“I can’t tell you how excited it makes me to be involved in this partnership between two organizations I love so much,” Cordeiro said. “It just makes me speechless.”
Asked if double duty was taking its toll on her sleep schedule, Cordeiro laughed, “I don’t really see it that way. All of the things I’m doing I’d be doing anyway!”
She added, “It’s basically two weeks of constant activity with houses being decorated, people arriving, and one event after another after another. It’s just beautiful.”
Cordeiro might even be welcoming houseguests this week.
“She blows me away,” said Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation Community Outreach Coordinator Maureen DiPiero. “Laurie is such an inspiration to everyone she meets. I love watching people watch her.”
DiPiero and Cordeiro, who live less than four miles from each other, have become quite close since they met early in 2011. Over the last few days, they’ve been enjoying the Bristol Fourth of July Concert Series, the Ball, and the other seemingly back-to-back happenings to which Cordeiro referred. DiPiero is sometimes awed by her friend’s effect on people.
“She chooses not to wear a wig,” DiPiero said of one side effect of Cordeiro’s chemotherapy. “I’ve never seen Laurie with hair. She has these headbands with huge, colorful flowers and people are just drawn to her bravery.”
Then DiPiero inevitably has what she calls “another breathless moment with Laurie,” watching Cordeiro interact with friends, coworkers, and complete strangers.
Organized to raise money and breast cancer awareness, this “pre-parade” will feature the Hope Bus, a 38-foot pink recreational vehicle that serves as the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s mobile outreach unit. The Hope Bus will be joined by the Rhode Island Pink Heals fire truck, a pink ambulance, two pink police cars, and an assortment of other pink-wrapped vehicles.
This parade of pink will feature an innovative float called the Garden of Hope, a mobile version of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s People’s Choice Award-winning contribution to the 2012 Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show. Designed by Craig Marciniak of Tranquil Water Gardens in Cumberland, this float will feature breast cancer survivors including Cordeiro and two of her friends—Donna Genereaux, and Michelle Renaud.
“We’re like the three musketeers,” Cordeiro said of her special bond with Genereaux and Renaud. “This week is a big family reunion for everybody. Then, when it’s over, you can hear a pin drop in Bristol. It’s that quiet.”
About the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation
The Gloria Gemma Foundation was established in 2004 in loving memory of Gloria J. Gemma and to honor her courageous fight against breast cancer. The organization’s mission is to raise breast cancer awareness; increase breast health education; enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends; and generate funding for local breast health programs. For more information, please call 401-861-HERO (4376) or visit www.gloriagemma.org.