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Princess court to Walk for Hope

Fifth annual event to be held Saturday at Lake Castaic

Posted: April 11, 2009 7:16 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Circle of Hope Warrior Princess Court, left to right, Warrior Princess of Heart Wendy Thrusha, Warrior Princess of Spirit Barbara Nunez and Warrior Princess of Diligence Karen Wright-Brooks. Hope Morrice, front, Miss Santa Clarita Valley, represents the Miss SCV Scholarship Program, sponsor of the princess court. The women will share their insp...

How can you help “de-feet” breast cancer? One step at a time during the Circle of Hope fifth annual Walk for Hope to be held Saturday at Lake Castaic.

In addition to the 5K walk there will be a classic car show, barbecue, music, vendors, other non-profits and dogs to walk and adopt.

The classic car show will feature every classic car category including muscle cars, tricked-out trucks, rare vintage cars and motorcycles.

The owners will compete with their pampered vehicles to earn  your vote in the People’s Choice contest.

Dogs are encouraged to accompany owners to the Circle of Hope Walk for Hope. When you register your dog, you will get a tee-shirt and the pooches will get a neck bandana. This is the only 5-K in the Santa Clarita Valley that offers bandanas for every canine.

Before and during the walk Circle of Hope’s own DJ, Sal Suarez, will spin some tunes and Fitness Edge Boot Camp will lead everyone in fun warm up moves.

Following the Walk, the Friends of Castaic Lake will cook up the group’s signature hamburgers and hot dogs along with chips and drinks.

The 2009 Warrior Princess Court includes Karen Wright-Brooks, Barbara Nuez and Karen Thrush, walk the walk of “diligence,” “spirit” and “heart.” Walk participants are encouraged to meet the Princess Court and learn about their courageous and inspiring lives.

“These three Warrior Princesses, Barbara, Wendy and Karen, have shown courage, determination and inspiration as they battle breast cancer,” said Colleen Shaffer, founder of Circle of Hope. “These working women were productive and caring for their families when the cancer hit and forced them to go on disability. It’s hard enough to focus on recovery let alone worry about the increasing medical bills that are putting you into debt. These remarkable women are our clients.”

The Miss SCV Scholarship Program is sponsor of the Walk for Hope Princess Court.

Warrior Princess of Spirit: Barbara Nunez
Barbara Nunez of Canyon Country found herself a single mother when diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. After surviving a breakup and rebuilding her life Nunez was devastated when she learned of her diagnosis.

“As my doctor spoke the two words to me, I felt frightened and my first thought was of my boys. What would happen to them without me?

That night I called my sisters and told them my bad news,” she said. “They supported me in my time of need and were there every step through this life changing event. To comfort me and give me courage, my sisters surprised me by flying my mother in from
Texas to stay with me through chemo treatments and doctor visits.”

Nunez was upset when she lost her hair during chemo treatments, but soon realized that she had the strength to fight the cancer.

“The UCLA Cancer Center helped me along the road to recovery and introduced me to the Pink Angel, Colleen Shaffer and the Circle of Hope program,” she said. “This program helped me see hope again when I had lost it. It helped me sleep again at night, not having to worry about how I was going to survive financially as well as emotionally.”

Nunez credits Circle of Hope with helping to rebuild her self-esteem.  

“I’m a new person because Circle of Hope” helped me to look at life with a different perspective,” she said. “With the help of Circle of Hope, I’m not afraid to face my cancer and to take my life back. I know that I will overcome these obstacles and live a long, healthy life. The one blessing that came from going through this ordeal is that I made new friends for life through the Circle of Hope program.”
Warrior Princess of Diligence: Karen Wright-Brooks
Karen Wright-Brooks of Lancaster was diagnosed with Stage II B breast cancer on June 25.   

“My first reaction was that I could not die. I had too much unfinished business,” she said.

Wright-Brooks said the financial burden of cancer had her most concerned.

“While sitting in my doctor’s office, I noticed a rack of pamphlets. The green and pink Circle of Hope pamphlet caught my attention,”
she said. “This pamphlet indicated that the nonprofit organization could assist with medical bills. Circle of Hope has been my angel wings. They paid the uncovered deductible for my medical bills. I want to thank Circle of Hope for being there for me.”

Warrior Princess of Heart: Wendy Thrusha
Wendy Thrusha of Valencia was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in December. However, it was only the latest health challenge for thrusha. On Dec. 10, 2002, Thrusha suffered a seizure due to an incorrect dosage of a local anesthesia during an outpatient dermatological procedure.

Thrusha, mother of three, found she could not recall the details of her life.

“I had no recollection of who I was let alone my husband, my three kids, my family and my community of friends,” she said. “I had no recollection of the last 44 years. Question after question was asked that day, none of which I could answer. Who am I? Who are these people? What day is it? Do I know which holiday is almost here? I was told I had just run the Santa Clarita Marathon the month before and that I was in great shape. I had been married 24 years and had three children. I had been a PTA president and was very active in our community. I was told I had put aside my career to raise our children.”

In February 2003, Thrusha suffered a transient ischemic attack — a stroke — that left her walking with a cane.

Now battling breast cancer Thrusha and her husband Matt have started a gourmet snack food business, M&W Gourmet Foods.

“I am thankful for the team of doctors that have been working with me — my surgeon Dr. Senofsky and my oncologist Dr. Barstis,” she said. “So much has happened since the surgical accident six years ago. I have run one marathon and two half marathons. Our oldest son Brandon is at Westmont College. Ryan and Mariah are at Valencia High School.”

Thrusha said her faith helps her through her battle and she is confident she will win.

“Victory will come when I pass the finish line, when I am done with chemo and radiation and am again training and running through the paseos of Santa Clarita with my best friend Matt,” she said.

Circle of Hope, Inc. a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, assists uninsured and underinsured individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment who live, work or receive treatment in the Santa Clarita Valley. The nonprofit provides an assisting hand up to $10,000 in medical financial aid paying COBRA/HIPAA payments, insurance premiums, second opinions, co-payments for doctor visits and medications, chemotherapy and past due surgical bills from a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

“Last year Circle of Hope has a 67 percent increase in medical financial aid. Within the last five years, there has been a 25 percent increase in medical insurance for families. Consider the increasing downsizing of work hours, higher insurance deductibles and maximum deductibles, this community is underinsured,” said Shaffer. “Let us not forget unemployment is rising to it’s highest level, too. Circle of Hope was founded to support this community with all donations staying within this community to provide hope and medical financial aid. We encourage everyone to come out to Castaic Lake for our fifth annual Walk for Hope 5K and People’s Choice Car Show to show your community support — not only to Circle of Hope, but to our princesses, too.”

Event day check-in and registration: 8 a.m.-9:15 a.m. Walk begins at 9:30 a.m. rain or shine. Info: (661) 254-5218 or


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