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Gary will honor gold medalist ‘Gabby’

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The Gary Chamber of Commerce is hosting a program honoring 2012 Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at the Genesis Convention Center.

Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, plus her maternal grandparents and a host of relatives and friends are Gary residents.

Douglas received incredible family support during her quest for Olympic gold. Her mother was with her in London, and family and friends cheered back here.

Led by her grandfather, Theodore Hawkins, relatives, friends and fans wore Douglas’ likeness on T-shirts and cheered during a party at Hustle and Joe’s Tavern and Grill as Douglas became the first African-American to win the Olympic all-around event and the first U.S. gymnast to win the all-around title and team gold in the same Olympics.

A limited number of autographed photos of Douglas will be available to the public. Advance tickets, at $25, are available at the Gary Chamber of Commerce.

Call Chuck Hughes, chamber executive director, at 885-7407 or email chughes@garychamber.com or jbowden@garychamber.com.

I recently attended the Sophisticated Divas in Red Hats’ debut “Paint the Room Pink” cancer awareness luncheon at The Patio restaurant. I was a “celebrity guest” of Shirley Thomas, one of my “extra moms” in the community.

Thomas created the luncheon at the last minute after missing a deadline for the annual Pink Tea.

“It was only through the grace of God that I pulled this off,” Thomas said.

Speakers included the Cancer Resource Center’s outreach coordinator, Deborah L. White; Mary Holly of Gary, who spoke about the Women’s Health Initiative survey, and spoken word artist and author Ethel Walton Fields. The special guest speaker was Thomas’ niece and four-time breast cancer survivor, Gayle Thornton, who shared her moving story that began in 1986. At that time, she said, you were not told much about your cancer.

“When you woke up, there was breast tissue removed,” she said. “You did not hear from a specialist; whatever was found was removed.”

Thornton felt another lump in 1989 while a student at Indiana University Northwest. She finished the semester, then went to the hospital Easter weekend and had two biopsies.

In 1991, another lump was found and, in 2006, another, despite the fact she no longer had breasts.

“I have 25 years of my life with cancer,” she said. “I wake up with God and know I need to ... tell others that life does not end with cancer.”



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