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Daffodil Days are in full bloom

Cheerful fundraiser for the American Cancer Society will run now through Feb. 26 in the SCV

Posted: January 21, 2009 9:44 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Breast cancer survivors Agnes Russell (left) and Heather Warrick, ACS SCV Unit Health Programs manager, pause from their busy day spent prepping orders during the 2008 Daffodil Days campaign.

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Throughout history, flowers have been given as symbolic gifts. Red roses have long conveyed love and passion. White lilies have been marks of purity or sorrow. The crocus has evoked thoughts of good cheer.
Then there's the yellow daffodil.

One of spring's first blooms, it represents joy and friendship.

To the American Cancer Society - our nation's largest private not-for-profit source of funds for scientists researching cancer - daffodils also convey optimism for those fighting the disease and for a cancer-free future. Additionally, to the ACS they represent an annual fund-and-hope-raising campaign known as Daffodil Days.

Now in bloom through Feb.. 26, Daffodil Days raise monies to help support the ACS' lifesaving cancer research, prevention, early detection, and support programs.

How to Help
The ACS SCV Unit asks that community members assist in this vital mission by supporting Daffodil Days. Here's how you can do that:

* Become a flower sales coordinator at a "representative site" - such as your business, place of worship, school or other large organization. There, you'll pre-sell flowers and then submit the orders. The daffodils, which arrive at Steve's Valencia Florist in Newhall on March 14 and 15, will be prepped according to order and delivered or picked up (depending on order size) on March 16 and 17. 

* Buy daffodils! Purchase these pretty yellow bouquets as spring décor for yourself or others. They also make nice gifts or tokens of inspiration for someone battling any life challenge. 

* Give Gifts of Hope: These anonymous donations allow the ACS to deliver daffodils to local cancer patients and bring cheer to their day. (Bouquets are not delivered to specific patients nor are donors' names attached to the gifts: suggested Gifts of Hope minimum is $25, but larger amounts are greatly appreciated.) Thanks to community generosity, 450 Gifts of Hope were delivered to SCV patients in 2008. 

* Volunteer! Help is needed preparing and delivering daffodil orders (including Gifts of Hope deliveries to local healthcare facilities), and dispensing free ACS information on delivery days.

"Because of these special donations, ACS SCV Unit volunteers were able to deliver 450 Gifts of Hope to patients in Santa Clarita in 2008," said ACS SCV Unit Health Programs Manager Heather Warrick, who has been battling recurrent metastatic breast cancer for more than 15 years.

Giving the Gift of Hope is not only a gift to a survivor, but a gift to yourself, said Nancy Coulter, ACS SCV Unit volunteer, past president and Heather Warrick's mother.

"It feels so good knowing that because you reached out, someone on their cancer journey smiled when they were told, ‘Someone in your community wants you to know they wish you well and are thinking about you,'" Coulter said. "We all have much to be thankful for and by participating in Daffodil Days you are saying you want to share that good feeling with someone who needs a bright spot in their day."

Giving daffodils to people going through tough times is a wonderful expression of love and it's done without needing any personal credit, says Daffodil Days volunteer Mary Smith.

She recalled a Daffodil Days experience last year while delivering the flowers to an oncology office: "A man in the waiting room asked me what I was being treated for. I told him that I didn't have cancer but that I was going to bring flowers in from my car that had been donated to cheer up patients. He told me he had brain cancer and in a very animated and excited manner, told me that he received daffodils (Gifts of Hope) last year. It was a wonderful feeling to see how much getting the flowers meant to him. Whatever the flowers cost, the results are priceless."

Battling disease, giving hope
Fighting the war against cancer is a mighty battle to uphold: In 2008, approximately 142,000 people heard the words, "You have cancer," while some 54,000 died from the disease. The lifetime risk for getting cancer is high; one out of every two males and one out of every three females will receive that diagnosis.

Consequently, whether it's ourselves, or family members or friends, cancer eventually touches us all.

Daffodil Days volunteer Ronda Bestle, R.N. supports the program because "It's a great way to let cancer survivors know they are not forgotten and that the fight against cancer is still going on. "I, too, have received the bouquet, and it was nice to see that someone thought of me," said Bestle, also a cancer survivor.

Holly Feneht, a young businesswoman in her 20s became involved with Daffodil Days and the ACS because of her own mom's cancer battle.

"She is not only a survivor but my inspiration and best friend," Feneht said. "For me, Daffodil Days is all about sharing hope and to keeping the hope growing every year as we search for a cure."

The American Cancer Society is the nation's largest private not-for-profit source of funds for scientists researching cancer. Thanks to such cutting-edge research, the overall death rate from cancer has lowered almost 20 percent over the last two decades. In addition, new treatments discovered through these studies are making many cancers more chronic, treatable conditions, rather than a death sentences.

Further proof of ACS victories: The organization now counts 42 Nobel Prize winners among its funded researchers - a proud record that stands alone in the nonprofit sector.

Since Daffodil Days' 1973 inception, nearly $250,000 million in gross revenue has been raised. Last year, the SCV campaign brought in more than $ 40,000; the 2009 target is $50,000.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for people to help the American Cancer Society keep working toward finding a cure for cancer and saving lives," said Warrick.

She also notes that the daffodils annually arrive in March during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

"Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer and cancer death in both men and women in the United States," she said. "Early detection is the key to survival with most every form of cancer."

Making a difference
There is no "thank you" big enough to convey the gratitude that the ACS SCV Unit feels for Steve Hanauer of Steve's Valencia Florist.

"For almost 20 years Steve has turned his flower shop over to us for Daffodil Days yet asks nothing in return - just the joy of knowing this is all helping to fight cancer and support those affected by the disease.
The man has a heart of gold," Warrick said.

Coulter echoed her daughter's sentiments about Hanauer and encourages Santa Claritans to embrace that same cause.

"Santa Clarita Valley is a compassionate community," Coulter said. "By being a part of Daffodil Days, you are spreading that kindness and generosity."

For further information about Daffodil Days go to www.cancer.org/daffodils. You may also call the ACS-SCV Unit at (661)-298-0886, option 3.

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