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Generous donations for cancer center

Posted: January 7, 2009 9:09 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2009 4:59 a.m.

Dr. Daniel Kirsch, radiologist and medical director at the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center, utilizes computer technology to view and interpret digital mammography images.

A breast cancer survivor turned businesswoman gave $25,000 to fight the disease that nearly killed her, part of $34,000 raised locally last year for Newhall Memorial's Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center.

Also donating to the cause were the Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley and Salt Creek Grille in Valencia.

Dianne Crawford, owner of the Pink Ribbon Gifts Web site, said she lives each day as an adventure and views each of life's experiences knowing it will open a new door of opportunity to give her love away to others.

In October 1997, Crawford found a new door opening she wasn't expecting, but embraced the challenge before her.

"(Being diagnosed with breast cancer) threw my whole life into a brick wall," she said. "But I decided that once I fought the battle and got through it, I was going to open a business and donate all the profits (to cancer-related organizations.) It was my life's purpose."

The following year, after being deemed cancer free, Crawford opened an online store and began donating all her profits to charity. Last year, Crawford's Web site generated a $25,000 profit she then donated to the Sheila R. Velos Breast Imaging Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

Her 2009 business year began this month in celebration of her 10th year in business. All Crawford's Web site products are on sale and come with free shipping during January.

But Crawford wasn't satisfied with the Web site profits and decided to seek God's help re-sparking her long-time entertainment career.

An Actinel commercial featuring Crawford just finished its 18-month run, providing the lifelong model and commercial actress enough money to donate half her income to charity. Crawford's first big-income commercial came 20 years ago when she began representing American Airlines.

Crawford hopes to continue her work through the Ford Modeling Agency.

Greg Amsler, owner of Salt Creek Grille, in Valencia, hosted several charity-centered events since he opened in 1999. Amsler sits on the hospital, Boys & Girls Club and Michael Hoefflin foundation boards and is also a former Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce board member.

His charity and community involvement came from his father, he said.

"I grew up helping my dad do a lot of (charitable) things on the weekends," Amsler said. "It's just the way I learned how to do business."

Salt Creek Grille hosts the breast-cancer awareness wine-tasting because it mixes his love for wine with Amsler's love for community.

"It's fun and it's an educational way of doing things. We have a representative from the wine companies come in and explain the wines so people can taste and learn at the same time," he said. "And we have a survivor speak. It's always extremely touching and thought provoking."

Amsler's next wine-tasting event is planned for February.

Terry Bucknall, director of women's imaging services, said the donated money is imperative to the hospital's fight against cancer.

"These (charity-minded people) go out of their way to raise money, and it's totally selfless," Bucknall said. "They spend a lot of time and energy putting on these events, and they open their doors to us and welcome us in."

Once money is donated, it goes to the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, a work in progress with a staff dedicated to serving cancer patients.

"The patients really appreciate it," Bucknall said. "We've had patients who have been in tears for what we can do, and the reason we can do that is because of the generosity of the community."


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