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Pampered Chef to host breast-cancer benefit

Photo by Jason A. Smith
Pampered Chef Team Leader and Independent Consultant Jessica Hurst-Leggett, is organizing a fund-raiser May 20, for breast-cancer research.

Photo by Jason A. Smith Pampered Chef Team Leader and Independent Consultant Jessica Hurst-Leggett, is organizing a fund-raiser May 20, for breast-cancer research.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

The fight against a deadly disease will take center stage in Henry County, thanks to an annual event cooked up by a local businesswoman.

Jessica Hurst-Leggett, a team leader and independent consultant for the Pampered Chef organization, will host a Help Whip Cancer event Friday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the McDonough Women's Club, at 139 Turner St., in McDonough.

The event, said Hurst-Leggett, is part of Pampered Chef's yearly effort to promote breast-cancer research and awareness during the month of May. The nationwide endeavor, which began in 2000, has been successful in generating support.

"To date, we've raised over $10 million," Hurst-Leggett said. "This year, our goal is to raise at least $1.1 million, for donations to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for their breast-cancer research."

She also plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the local event to Henry County Cancer Services, and to the Henry Medical Center Foundation. Hurst-Leggett also pledged to donate her commission from all sales at the event, to the ACS.

Cancer has directly affected lives in Hurst-Leggett's family. She organized the fund-raiser in honor of her aunt, Nancy Miller, a breast-cancer survivor who works at Henry Medical Center, and in memory of the consultant's grandmother, Dorthy Elliott Paul, who died of lymphoma.

Hurst-Leggett added that some local businesses, including Cat's Pajamas, and Scarlet's Retreat Day Spa, both in McDonough, have pledged support for Help Whip Cancer. However, she would like to see more participation locally.

"I've been kind of disappointed sometimes, with some of the businesses that have said, 'We'll think about it' or "We'll see,'" she said. "I understand the way the economy is, but that makes it that much more important for us to try to help these organizations ... that rely solely on people in the community to help."

Adam Stanfield, executive director of the Henry Medical Center Foundation, said he is excited that Hurst-Leggett chose to direct funds to his organization.

"It's very instrumental, in the sense that we are in talks about developing and supplementing breast cancer awareness programs at the hospital," Stanfield said. "Any support from organizations like this will go a long way in helping us do that."

Representatives from other direct-sales companies, including Willow House, Thirty-One Gifts and Arbonne, will also be on hand for the occasion, lending their support for breast-cancer research, according to Hurst-Leggett.

"Each of the direct-sales companies are going to have tables set up, and will tell a little bit about our products," she said.

Pandora Palmer is an attorney with the Smith Welch & Brittain law firm in McDonough, and an independent consultant for Arbonne. Like Hurst-Leggett, Palmer said the issue of breast-cancer research is important to her because of the effect cancer has had on her loved ones.

"My mom died from breast cancer when I was 19, and she was 48," said Palmer. "So, breast cancer is near and dear to my heart."

The lawyer said she hopes to be more involved in cancer awareness, and encourages individuals struggling with cancer to do the same by attending the May 20 event.

"You never know who you're going to meet at events like this, who can help you," Palmer said. "You never know what life has in store for you. You can never have too many friends."

Barbie Hedges, of McDonough, is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in June of 2009. She is scheduled to speak to guests at the local Pampered Chef event about cancer, and how it has impacted her family.

"My mom had a four-year battle with ovarian cancer and died eight months before I was diagnosed," said Hedges. "My daughter and I had already been looking into doing breast-cancer walks."

Hedges, in September of 2010, launched a Spivey Survivors support group, at Spivey Station in Jonesboro, for breast-cancer survivors under the age of 45. The group is in affiliation with the Breast Cancer Survivors Network.

She expressed gratitude for Hurst-Leggett's commitment to spreading the word about breast cancer.

"I think it's awesome for anybody to put together a breast-cancer event, whether they're a survivor or not, especially if it's going to help the local community," said Hedges.