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An Evening of Insight, Encouragement, and Hope

Hope Lives! is “Painting the Town Pink” for one inspiring evening

Describing the event on February 17th as “the Met Gala of Northern Colorado,” legacy ambassador and volunteer at Hope Lives!, Martha Kyler isn’t the only one excited for this incredible event benefiting the charity that does so much for those receiving treatment for breast cancer. A gala, complete with a fashion show as you’ve never seen before, is sure to inspire and give the most beautiful gift of all to those facing cancer – hope.  

An annual event, the Hope Lives! Gala celebrates resilience and life. This evening is filled with stories of those who, when faced with breast cancer, leaned on their community to have a greater quality of life and to get the support they needed to endure and heal. February 17th marks the night that Fort Collins will be “painted pink” with the gala and fashion show.  

Hope Lives! helps those diagnosed with breast cancer, living in Larimer or Weld counties, who are receiving active treatment. Support and care from the organization come from local vendors, volunteers, and donations. Many local businesses donate products or services to those battling breast cancer.  

“Our clients and their families are reminded they are not alone in their breast cancer journeys,” says the executive director of Hope Lives!, Elise Carver, “Our mission is to improve the quality of life and offer support in a very challenging and scary time.”

Services range from house cleaning to acupuncture, and everything in between. The list of services and local providers is astounding. Supporting Hope Lives! is a unique way to help those facing cancer, as well as local businesses. Each local business that provides services is making an amazing impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer. 

While many of us tend to see cancer as a medical battle, there are so many battles that remain unseen. Health and healing take on many different forms, many of which are not necessarily covered by insurance. Exercise such as yoga and t’ai chi help both body and mind to heal. The donations of wigs, facials, and eyelashes help women to regain some of what was lost to cancer, not just aesthetically but in levels of confidence.  

Hope Lives! has a more than 20-year history here in Fort Collins. It’s because of the generosity of local businesses donating their time, products, services, and money that the organization can continue to help those facing breast cancer and create this community of sisterhood that the recipients share.  

Martha Kyler, the now legacy ambassador, spreads the word about this organization that helped her so much in her time of need. Diagnosed with breast cancer right after turning 31, Hope Lives! was recommended to Kyler by a neighbor. She applied and was quickly accepted into the program.  

“This program was instrumental in my self-care, mental health, and sense of community when I was in the darkest chapter of my life,” Kyler explains of the organization she has been a part of for three years now. 

Kyler credits Hope Lives! with improving her quality of life as she went through chemo and radiation, all the while trying to keep up with her household, including caring for her very young son. She relied on the services provided by Hope Lives! to help with everyday tasks while focusing on her health. Overwhelmed by side effects and experiencing physical limitations from surgeries, Kyler used vouchers from the local vendors who support Hope Lives! to receive services not covered by insurance, but that were instrumental in her healing journey.

After finishing cancer treatment and recovering from reconstructive surgery, Kyler was given the opportunity to become an ambassador for the program that helped her so much.  

Last year, Kyler walked in the fashion show at the annual gala for Hope Lives!. It was a way to celebrate her resilience against breast cancer and show her gratitude for the support she received by telling her story.  

The fashion show at the gala is the undisputed highlight of the event. Local clothing and salon vendors donate their products, time, and services so the women, breast cancer thrivers,  walking in the show look and feel stunning as they celebrate life. Before the survivor walks the catwalk, their story is told through a video.  

“I challenge anyone to come away from the fashion show not touched by the women brave enough to tell their stories,” explains Carver, “and how Hope Lives! positively affects their lives.”

Watching the women tell their stories of fighting a battle for their lives and the support they received, then seeing them walk triumphantly across the stage impacts all attending. The stories of bravery, strength, and how community support has lent a helping hand makes everyone realize what an important cause Hope Lives! is. 

“When you’ve experienced something as traumatizing as cancer, you realize that every day is an opportunity to experience joy,” Kyler remarks, “Life is worth celebrating!”

So, celebrate they do! The Hope Lives! Gala is truly a night of gratitude and commemoration.  The silent and live auctions and wine pull help raise funds for the organization to continue its important work. There is also live music from the big band, Colorado Swing, and of course, dancing.  

The theme of this year's gala is “Paint the Town Pink”, a color that represents breast cancer awareness. As part of the decoration committee where she gets to “beautify the ballroom,” Kyler is taking the theme to a whole new level.

“My goal is to create an aesthetic that rivals Barbie’s Dreamhouse, in terms of joy and vibrance,” she exclaims.

 The fashion show and gala represent so much to this group that no one asked to be a part of. They represent the journey, and how when a local community and businesses come together to support those facing a battle, even the impossible can be achieved. They represent the celebration of life, and how working together and creating a support system can make all the difference in the world. 

Working with Hope Lives! has taught Carver some important lessons that she will never forget.  “I truly realize our lives and ways of life can change in an instant,” she says of working with the organization, “I understand the importance of meeting people where they are and companioning with them, however that might look on any given day.” 

 Tickets for the gala, including the fashion show, are available at www.hopelives.org. The fun starts at 5:30 pm at the Hilton in Fort Collins, at 425 West Prospect Road, and goes until 11:30 pm. But the inspiration, encouragement, and insight gained from this event, as well as the monetary donations and funds raised, will go infinitely further. 

“When you’ve experienced something as traumatizing as cancer, you realize that every day is an opportunity to experience joy. Life is worth celebrating!” - Martha Kyler 

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