MADEIRA BEACH — My Hope Chest, a nonprofit organization that helps breast cancer survivors pay for reconstructive surgery, hosts one of its signature annual events Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Butterfly gloWalk and 5K Fun Run takes place at Madeira Beach’s Archibald Memorial Park with check-in starting at 6 p.m. The race begins at dusk and will be followed by a party at the Madeira Beach Snack Shack.
This isn’t your average 5K, said Alisa Savoretti, the organization’s founder. Participants don butterfly wings, glow-in-the-dark body paint and colorful, glow-in-the-dark accessories.
“It’s a twist on the traditional walk kind of event, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s also the most beautiful event.”
Savoretti, a breast cancer survivor, founded My Hope Chest 16 years ago while she was still living in Las Vegas. The former showgirl, inspired by her own struggles to afford reconstructive surgery, decided to dedicate her life to helping other women fund the life-changing surgery.
“I knew if I was having these struggles, then there were other women out there having them, too,” she said. “I wanted to help.”
Through My Hope Chest, Savoretti negotiates Medicaid rates for the surgery with doctors and hospitals. Even with the reduced rate, these surgeries cost between $500 and $13,000, depending on the scope of the procedure.
To this day, My Hope Chest is the one of the only organizations in the country solely focused on breast reconstruction after cancer, she added.
“When I started it, I found that there was no one else in the country addressing what happened to me,” she said. “We’re doing something nobody else is doing – delayed breast reconstruction.”
The organization assists between seven and 10 women every year. Savoretti knows this number might sound small to some, but it isn’t, she said. “This surgery is just that expensive. It costs a lot and we do a lot on a small budget.”
Though the nonprofit is based here in Pinellas County, it has a national reach, helping uninsured and underinsured women throughout the country.
“We’re a 16-year-old grassroots locally based in Seminole, national organization,” she said. “We have quite a reach.”
Even those who have insurance often struggle to afford the co-pay, she added.
All funds raised at the Butterfly gloWalk and 5K Fun Run benefits My Hope Chest and helps fund these reconstructive surgeries.
Cost is $45 to $50 to register, depending on how far in advance you sign up. Register for the event online at https://www.active.com/madeira-beach-fl/running/distance-running-races/butterfly-glowalk-5k-fun-run-and-party-2019. Walkers and runners may also sign up in person the day of the event.