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Celebration of Hope gala aims to aid those fighting cancer

Date: 8/29/2014

SPRINGFIELD – Kim Clemons is exuberant when she talks about life, her family and helping others.

Clemons will be the key speaker at this fall’s Celebration of Hope gala on Sept. 27, which is conducted in conjunction with a Pink Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral on State Street. The Mass starts at 4 p.m. and the gala dinner follows at 6 p.m. at the Springfield Elks Lodge #61, 440 Tiffany St.

Clemons noted that the special fourth annual Catholic Mass and fundraising dinner are aimed at helping people deal with all types of cancer.

"The Mass is inspirational and the dinner is like a giant family,” she said. Clemons is a practice associate at Baystate’s pain management center.

The Celebration of Hope of Western Mass Committee, which Clemons serves on as secretary, is committed to raising funds and awareness to improve the health of people in our region by supporting local agencies and raising awareness of ways in which people can prevent cancer.

“We are expecting several hundred people to join together for prayer and fundraising,” said Clemons.

Members from cancer support agencies, medical professionals, and caregivers are also welcome and encouraged to attend.

Clemons, a mom of two adult children, Nicholas, 28, and Samantha, 23, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She is a parishioner of Holy Name Parish in Springfield.

“Our family is very close so it was hard to tell my children,” she said, adding that her first chemotherapy session was the day before her 45th birthday.

Clemons was ecstatic when she had passed her first year in remission, only to have her hopes dashed exactly one year later to the day when her physician told her he had found a “different form of cancer.”

“I had surgery but didn’t need chemotherapy,” she said, noting that catching the cancer early made the difference. “Self-examination is huge to me.”

When Clemons speaks of the Pink Mass she equates it to a “sense of solidarity.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said, speaking of the liturgy. “It is nice to see an outpouring of people come together, it’s like a family.”

The Mass, sponsored in part by the Diocese of Springfield, is offered for those who have been affected by cancer in any way, including those battling the disease, their loved ones and those who have passed away from the disease. Many who will be taking part in the Mass and the dinner are currently battling cancer.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will be the celebrant for the Mass that will be taped and broadcast the following morning at 6 a.m. on WWLP as part of the weekly diocesan program, “Chalice of Salvation.”

Clemons stated that people of all faiths are encouraged to attend.

“People will find a new circle of wonderful friends to share experiences,” she said, adding that she tries to meet as many people as possible.

“I was outgoing when I was battling breast cancer and it helped make my worries go away,” she said. “I am very open and eager to help others in any way I can.”

Funds raised from the gala are distributed to four local charities, the Cancer House of Hope, Mercy Medical Center’s Sister Caritas Cancer Center, the Rays of Hope and the Prostate Cancer Program through the Baystate Health Foundation.

Dinner tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children age 12 and younger. For tickets or more information, visit or call Joyce Stavros at 783-9810 or email Terence Hegarty at