Jeanette Sparano, founder of the Miami Dolphins Women’s Organization, helped deliver that message Thursday afternoon in Margate at the JM Lexus Conference Center at the Empowering Women Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon. The wife of Head Coach Tony Sparano was the featured guest speaker at the event benefiting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
Every participant, including myself felt the sincerity of each speaker. A true feeling of sisterhood could be felt from the speakers and the audience. As a woman who has also been touched by this disease through family and close friends it was comforting and refreshing to learn that this was an event designed to inspire. I picked up on a spirit of women being real and putting themselves out there to influence others to take care of not only themselves but also the women and men in our local communities.
But without a doubt the most influential speaker was Jeanette Sparano, and she will feed off of the momentum of this luncheon with a big presence at Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos. The MDWO will have a table in front of Gate G at Sun Life Stadium between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., where items including players’ cleats and gloves will be up for bid in a silent auction. The women also will be passing out pink ribbons for fans to wear in support of the cause.
“You don’t have to do a grand gesture, every single one of us can do one little thing,” Jeannette said. “Even if it is just to help someone with their bags at the grocery store or get to know your neighbors better. That’s where a sense of community starts – in our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, our own communities. If you see something that needs to be fixed, you do it. Don’t wait for someone else to fix it. Why not? Someone has to do it, why not us? Step up, take the initiative and make a change instead of complaining that no one else is doing it.”
The setting allowed each guest to learn more about the role that JM Lexus plays in serving the local community that goes beyond selling automobiles. Jim Dunn, Vice President and General Manager of JM Lexus, takes his company’s role in the fight against breast cancer seriously.
“Philanthropy is in our DNA, we thoroughly enjoy it and we look forward to it,” Dunn said. “Out of our 350 associates employed at this dealership we have at least 150 women on staff here at JM Lexus. Some of the ladies here today are breast cancer survivors and this afternoon their stories were told. These empowering women directly reflect the impact this disease had had on our dealership family. Their personal experiences are very inspiring and great stories to tell.”
“Breast cancer is such a dreaded disease and we are hearing through the media how important it is to make women more aware and earlier,” Dunn continued. “We know how important regular mammograms and care are for women under 40. It used to be thought that you waited until you reach the age of 40 to begin routine care. We support women in every way at JM Lexus with early detection and their routine breast health by offering all of our women associates free mammograms.”
Sixteen-year breast cancer survivor Kim Heard, Volunteer Chair for community education and resources spoke on behalf of the Susan G. Komen Miami/Fort Lauderdale Chapter. She echoed these same sentiments by reminding the audience that there are many resources provided through Susan G. Komen, including low cost mammograms. Local physicians and hospitals also provide these services for those women and men who feel they cannot commit to regular care due to poor economic factors or simply due to not having enough insurance coverage.
When Jeanette was in high school a very good friend’s mother passed away due to breast cancer. Even then she recalls that it was a taboo thing, to talk about breast cancer, and she believes society has come a very long way from those days. Her sister was diagnosed in 1999 and is a more-than-decade-long survivor.
“Even though we have come so far in treatment, it is still a very scary diagnosis,” she said. “It is still a very difficult process to go through but it doesn’t have the pending sense of doom that used to be associated with a diagnosis. You don’t feel like you’ve been given a death sentence. You’re in for a battle and you’re in for a challenge for yourself and your whole family.
“To me, I have a dear friend who was diagnosed last month and hearing her options, which were so different from what my sister had treatment wise, and her outlook and the outlook from her health team, it was a much more optimistic and proactive approach rather than a reactive one, like when my sister was going through it.”
The fight against breast cancer and empowering women is what drove Jeanette to create and lead the Miami Dolphins Women’s Organization. Sometimes it is difficult to talk about different topics, but this one advocating breast health was a no brainer for her. When she formed this organization comprised of Miami Dolphins players’ wives, staff and local empowered women she began to notice that things just got done.
“Women are doers. When you get a group of women together that have similar opinions to help the community there is a force of action,” she said. “There is no greater force to me than a group of motivated women.”
Count this woman among the true believers.