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One Daffodil at a Time

Posted: January 26, 2008 5:03 p.m.
Updated: March 29, 2008 2:01 a.m.

Some of the folks who bring you Daffodil Days, left to right, Candy Spahr, Nancy Coulter, Diana Sevanian, Holly Feneht and Agnes Russell. Daffodil Days is a fundraiser that provides money for free services offered to cancer patients. Among these services are transportation to and from oncology treatments, and educational classes.

• 2008 Daffodil Days Fundraiser Underway in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Agnes Russell got involved after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Nancy Coulter does it as a way to offer support to her daughter, Heather Warrick, a nine-time cancer survivor. Diana Sevanian and Holly Feneht serve as co-chairs as a way to acknowledge their family members who battled the disease.
The reasons for their involvement differ, but all five Santa Clarita Valley women are continuing their efforts toward this year's Daffodil Days, an annual floral fundraiser sponsored by the American Cancer Society, as a way to give cancer patients hope.

Daffodils Offer Hope
The idea behind Daffodil Days is simple: Buy a bouquet of the brightly-colored yellow flowers to show love and support for a cancer patient, while donating to a worthy cause at the same time.
"Buying daffodils is a way to honor cancer patients," Coulter, a Daffodil Days volunteer, said as members of the Daffodil Days committee congregated for their meeting.
The money raised benefits the society's various no-cost programs for patients, which extend into the Santa Clarita Valley and, gets local cancer patients the support they need.
Sales from last year's Daffodil Days in the Santa Clarita Valley brought in $38,000 to benefit the organization.
While there are hundreds of flowers that could be used to benefit for the American Cancer Society, Sevanian, co-chair of Daffodil Days, explained that a daffodil is more than a pretty yellow flower.
"It's one of the first flowers of spring," she said. To the American Cancer Society, daffodils serve as a way to give hope for those living with cancer and a hope that one day, with enough treatment and research, cancer will no longer exist.
Coulter said she enjoys how the daffodils bloom. When they are first delivered, the daffodils are closed, but after a day or two, they open up to create something that she calls "so beautiful."
Russell, a Daffodil Days volunteer, said giving someone the bouquet is a way to brighten up their spirits.
"I think it's great," Russell said, from the perspective of a seven-year breast cancer survivor.

How to Help
Currently, the team of Daffodil Days volunteers of American Cancer Society Santa Clarita Valley Unit is searching for community members to pre-purchase the daffodils for themselves, others or as anonymous Gifts of Hope for cancer patients in the local area - before the Feb. 28 order deadline.
Sevanian and co-chair Feneht said they are looking for businesses, places of worships, schools and other locations in the Santa Clarita Valley that are willing to serve as "rep sites." These sites will take flower orders from the community and then distribute the bouquets within their own organization during the week of March 17.
Additionally, the society is looking for local volunteers who can sort and deliver the bouquets when the bunches of flowers are dropped off to Steve's Valencia Florist in Newhall in early March.
Feneht said before the flowers go out, ACS volunteers take part in a "fun, crazy experience" where all the flowers are sorted, bunches are made and then dropped off to the designated locations in the local community.
Orders over $250 will be delivered by Daffodil Days volunteers to the "rep sites." Any orders that total less than $250 must be picked up at flower shop.

People Behind the Program
Although Daffodil Days is an annual fundraiser held nationally, the program has a special meaning for the local women involved because they all share a common experience with cancer.
Feneht said this is the second year she is serving as co-chair for Daffodil Days, a position that found her last year.
"My interest was in art therapy," she said about what first drew her to volunteering for the American Cancer Society.
When she realized the organization needed help with Daffodil Days, Feneht signed up.
Along with helping, Feneht said Daffodil Days is "very near and dear to me" because her mother is a breast cancer survivor.
Sevanian recalled when her grandfather died of cancer the same day he was diagnosed. From then, the word cancer became her family's "hush hush word." She now sees that times have changed.
"We can sit here and joke and remember things," she said as the Daffodil Days committee members exchanged stories and reflected. She added that awareness also takes cancer's power away.
Warrick and Coulter found the organization after Warrick's battles with cancer. Coulter said her daughter has endured cancer in her hips, neck and brain, among other parts of her body. Warrick now serves as manager of Health Programs for the Santa Clarita Valley Unit.
Russell explained that taking on cancer is what introduced her to the American Cancer Society.
"If I wasn't a cancer survivor, I wouldn't know these people," she said looking at each of the women seated around the table.
As the discussions continued about each woman's experience with cancer, they agreed cancer is no longer a "death sentence" thanks to the improvements in treatment and medications.

The Final Goal
With every program and fundraiser the American Cancer Society sponsors, the goal is to raise money to assist cancer patients and continue research to stop the disease.
Coulter said she remembers when one out of every nine people with cancer survived.
"Now the ratio is for every two patients diagnosed, one survives," she said. "The next statistic will be that everyone survives."


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