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Fighting Cancer

Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea planned for downtown La Grange, Ky.

Proceeds benefit local cancer-fighting agencies

LAGRANGE, Ky. (April 2016) – In the last eight years, La Grange Crossroads District has helped raise more than $20,000 in the battle against ovarian cancer. This year, proceeds from the Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea will also benefit local agencies that battle cancer.
“Our progressive tea started when one of our shop owners started battling ovarian cancer,” said Karen Eldridge, executive director of La Grange Crossroads District. The La Grange business owner was Cindy Adams, who owned The Emporium. She had heard about how the National Ovarian Cancer Awareness organization held small teas to bring about awareness of the lack of screening for ovarian cancer, and so she wanted to do the same. 
As a result, “We chose a Sunday, and the idea of having a progressive tea developed,” Eldridge said. The event has been held annually since 2007.
Adams’ goal was to raise money for a support group – Ovarian Awareness of Kentucky or OAK – that had been like family to her. Sadly, Adams lost her battle with cancer in March 2009.
This year’s Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea will be held from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 17, in downtown La Grange. The event will begin at CityPlace, 112 S. First St. 
Each participant receives a gift bag of assorted goodies and health information and the opportunity to choose a teacup to keep as a reminder of the day. Guests then visit the 20 to 25 participating locations, which are identified by a teal ribbon and a “We Have Tea” sign in front of the business.
Complimentary shuttle service is provided for those who have difficulty walking to all the locations. Each shop has a different tea beverage and light snack to sample. In-store specials, door prizes and drawings are held during the event. Tickets for the drawings are included in the registration gift bag. 
There will also be music at CityPlace and entertainment, and local health services will be on hand for simple screenings and health information.
“We have averaged 350 participants over the last eight years,” said Eldridge. Over the years, “We have added door prize drawings, and it has become an event that people look forward to.” 
She said participants enjoy the festive atmosphere and the treats. Business owners “go all out to make it special for the participants.”
This year, proceeds will be split with OAK, Hope Health Clinic and the Oldham County Family YMCA Livestrong program. “We wanted to be able to support our local agencies that help those who battle cancer also,” Eldridge said.
The Livestrong program “is for cancer survivors after they’ve gone through treatment,” said Ester Greshum, program director for the Oldham County YMCA. It is aimed at helping survivors “gain their strength back. It’s a support group for them, so they can start to live life again.”
Kristen Bohannon, the program director who leads the Livestrong program at the YMCA, said the free program was launched in May 2015 and is still relatively new. “We had 12 participants the first year, and we hope to grow the program.”
Bohannon said it is a 12-week program that meets from 9:30-11 a.m on Wednesdays and Fridays. “We encourage participants to come in on a third day on their own or in groups.”
The YMCA originally approached organizers for the Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea about the program in an effort “to reach out and spread the word in the community,” said Bohannon. Organizers thought it would be great to have the YMCA set up a booth at CityPlace on the day of the tea to educate the public about the Livestrong program as well.     
Another benefactor of the tea, OAK, is a Louisville-based organization that educates individuals and health care professionals about the subtle signs of this cancer. It has provided support and education for more than 14 years.
In April 2001, Jill Doimer and the late Judy Morris created OAK. The two women met on the Internet and decided to form an alliance and raise awareness about this silent killer.
Baptist Health is a sponsor for the 2016 Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea, and this year the Wellness and Health aspect are being brought back. Eldridge said this was a feature that organizers were not able to have in smaller venues.
This year, through a partnership with the Humane Society of Oldham County’s Derby Affair, “we are able to have CityPlace on Sunday, and they will have their event the day before, on Saturday. We will have health-related booths set up on Saturday also and be making reservations for the tea. Our hope is that with both events in La Grange, we can expand our visibility,” said Eldridge.
She always participates in the Blue Hydrangea Progressive Tea because “I love to see the attendees out having such a good time and love seeing how the shops are so creative with their treats.”
Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased online at www.LagrangeCrossroads.org.

• For more information, contact Karen Eldridge at (502) 269-0126 or email her at: director@discoverlagrange.org.

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