Gloria Gemma Foundation's 'Flames of Hope' returns this weekend in Providence

The Cranston Herald ·

The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation will be kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the coming weekend’s “Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life.”

The event will take place Oct. 1-2 in downtown Providence. The schedule includes a variety of events that are open to the public.

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Passport to Wellness, a free healthy living expo, will take place at the Omni Providence Downtown Hotel from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s event will showcase over 50 vendors, speakers, and wellness classes.

Topics will enrich participants’ minds, bodies, and spirits. Speakers include Mark Timon of Vibrant Health, Lou Paradise of Topricin, Katie McDonald of Nourished, and Sen. Donna Nesselbush of Marasco & Nesselbush LLP.

New this year, the foundation is introducing an interactive experience called GiGi Go offering the chance to win a limited edition Journey bracelet courtesy of Gennaro Inc. Pre-register for the event at

“We are truly excited to share this event with our community. There is going to be a wealth of information and resources provided to all those interested in living a healthy lifestyle,” said Maria Gemma, executive director of the foundation.

Just down the road from the Omni, in Station Park next to the Providence Place Mall, the Celebration of Life Festival will take place from 3 p.m. to midnight. There will be live music, interactive displays, and food and drink. Several bands will perform on the main stage, including Decadia live at 8:30 p.m. with sounds of the ’80s.

Those in attendance will be able to stroll through the Garden of Hope and “Enter the World of Fairies,” and create a cloth block to add to the Tapestry of Hope, a healing arts project that weaves cultures together through the common thread of breast cancer.

Gregg’s Restaurants & Taverns will be featuring their annual Cake for the Cure – four layers of pink cake filled with delicious pink vanilla butter cream frosting and topped with pink ribbon sprinkles. Those on hand can purchase a slice for a $1 donation to Gloria Gemma.

Mastery Martial Arts will be holding a live demonstration. Buy and decorate a board and watch as the messages on them are “broken into the universe” as a tribute to loved ones.

At dusk, walk over to the State House as the Illumination of Life Ceremony lights up the night to promote the mission of Gloria Gemma. The ceremony begins at the State House, which is beautifully lit in pink, with a moving tribute featuring the State Ballet of Rhode Island and speakers. Torchbearers then wind their way through downtown Providence to the basin at Waterplace Park.

The torchbearers are survivors or individuals paying tribute to someone who has lost their fight against breast cancer. Each torchbearer is asked to raise a minimum of $500 to carry a torch. At press time, there were some still available.

All proceeds are used to help with the operating costs of the Hope Bus, Gloria Gemma’s traveling resource center that provides education and support to the greater Rhode Island area.

“A highlight of the ‘Flames of Hope: Celebration of Life’ weekend, the Illumination of Life Ceremony, lights up the night to promote the mission of Gloria Gemma,” said Gemma. “Come celebrate and nurture life in our local community before, during, and after a breast cancer diagnosis … We are humbled by all the wonderful people who will be a part of the ceremony this year. Each and every one of them has a powerful story about their journey, and we are honored to be a part of it.”

Gemma added: “At 8 p.m. fall into a world of wonderment at this year’s Mad Pink Party, a ticketed event. Senses will be wowed by the imaginative food provided by Pranzi Catering and there will be more than just tea at the wildflower bar. It is the perfect night to come out and celebrate the adventure that is life.”

After a full day and night on Saturday, the Gloria Gemma Run/Walk Series will be held on Sunday, Oct. 2.

The series begins at 9 a.m. with the Kids Fun Run, a sprint down the hill on Francis Street open to children ages five to 12. At 10 a.m., the Pink Pump Palooza will kick off with the inaugural Mayoral Run with Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. Come see him cross the finish line in pink heels. Finally, at 11 a.m., 5K participants wearing “pink spirit” will race and walk their way through historic downtown Providence. Prizes will be awarded for the fastest times and highest fundraisers. Paws and Sox from the Pawtucket Red Sox will be there cheering everyone on.

“Gloria Gemma is dedicated to providing education, programs, and support services to anyone touched by cancer in the local region, and ‘Flames of Hope’ is the purest reflection of our mission,” Gemma said.