MUSCATINE, Iowa — Muscatine County has the highest rate of breast cancer in the state of Iowa, according to Kelly Frick, director of imaging services at Unity Point Health-Trinity Muscatine.
"And it has increasing end-stage, late-stage breast cancer diagnosis," she said Sunday, during Runway Red, a benefit for Gilda's Club's services in Muscatine.
Holly Oppelt of Muscatine has personal knowledge of these statistics. She joined Gilda’s Club three years ago after she was diagnosed with uterine and breast cancer.
“I joined one of their groups after I was kind of finished with my chemo and just got involved,” she said.
After she recovered, she stayed involved. For three years, she's been part of the organizing committee for the benefit, which was held at Muscatine’s Rendezvous Banquet Hall and Catering. The benefit raises awareness about cancer and about the services Gilda's Club offers.
“It’s just important to raise the awareness,” said Joy McMeekan, development director at Gilda’s Club. “We’ve been offering direct services to Muscatine for the last three years ... we’re here to make sure that no one in the Muscatine community faces cancer alone.”
The benefit featured wine and desserts as well as a runway show featuring volunteer models who wore spring fashion from Yonkers, Cato, The HallTree Boutique and LeChic Prom & Pageant Boutique. And some of the volunteer models had a special connection to the cause.
Sherry Basham drove from Port Byron, Illinois to participate.
“Cancer runs rampant in my family. My grandmother died of breast cancer when she was 30—my mother never knew her,” Basham said. “My mom has had lumps removed and my grandmother’s sister also died when she was very young. So it’s really important to me to help raise money and raise awareness.”
Maddison Lange, 21, crowned Miss Muscatine a month ago, modeled some of LeChic’s spring prom looks.
“Since I’ve just been crowned a month ago, I’ve been really trying to get into the community and kind of get involved,” she said.
Lange said she is working to become a pediatric oncologist, and spends time at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.
The event was sponsored by several organizations, including UnityPoint Health-Trinity Muscatine.