Cancer and toys focus of benefit concert
Christian musicians helped to raise money for two worthy causes Sunday at Morning Star Baptist Church.
Anita “Boss Lady” Dean-Arnette, an on-air personality at 1340/1400 The Light, joined forces with breast cancer survivor Tammie Cuthrell to host a toy drive and breast cancer awareness event. Concert attendees were encouraged to donate new toys for Dean-Arnette’s annual Christmas toy giveaway and to support Team Pink Gems, Cuthrell’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team.
Dean-Arnette and Cuthrell became close two years ago when the latter was chosen as The Light’s Mother of Year, an annual contest created by Dean-Arnette to celebrate unsung moms.
“Together, these two women really are on a serious mission and God has brought them to a royal position for such a time as this,” Dr. Soncerey Montgomery, Cuthrell’s first cousin and a Team Pink Gems member, told the audience near the beginning of the program. “Now get ready for the flood gates of heaven to open and saturate us with spiritual blessings.”
A standing room only crowd of hundreds was moved by the spirited sounds of a litany of acts, including the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church Praise Team, Dionn Owen & Renaissance, Eddie Bines & The Big Four Choir and Willie Mason & Friends.
Owen, an acclaimed musician and music director, co-hosted the event along with Dean-Arnette. He revealed that his brother is currently battling lymphoma.
“It’s hitting everybody’s family,” he said of cancer. “We’re praying for them (survivors), but remember, the battle’s not yours. It’s the Lord’s.”
Cuthrell has become a breast cancer awareness advocate, working in the community to educate other women about the disease.
“I’m a four-year patient survivor,” she told the audience. “I’m still taking chemo, and I’m still standing, praise the Lord.”
[pullquote]“I’m a four-year patient survivor,” she told the audience. “I’m still taking chemo, and I’m still standing, praise the Lord.”[/pullquote]Although she is fortunate enough to have the means and the insurance to cover the staggering cost of her treatments, Cuthrell said she has met many women who aren’t as lucky. She founded Team Pink Gems – which amassed 65 members for its first Race for the Cure last spring – as a means of helping those women.
“Our community needs to be represented because breast cancer doesn’t only happen to other people,” she remarked. “It’s here in our community, too.”
The community’s have-nots were also the motivation for Dean-Arnette when she started her toy giveaway program 12 years ago. Each holiday season, she encourages her listeners to write to her if they need help to make Christmas merrier for their children.
“We try to help every family that sends in a request. Last year, we blessed 40 families,” she said. “Some of these families have eight or nine members, but we never turn anybody away.”
Luckily, Dean-Arnette’s fans and supporters have responded to the demand by donating items.
“It’s almost like a Toys R Us in (the radio station). I wish you could see it because God truly blesses us,” she declared. “It’s a whole lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
One of the most touching moments of the concert event occurred when Cuthrell’s niece, Deonna Lindsay, joined her aunt at the microphone to read an essay she penned.
“In 2009, my Aunt Tammie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She faces daily challenges and struggles, making it through tough times. My Aunt Tammie had to deal with lots of sickness … (but) she kept a positive attitude, and didn’t give up,” Deonna read. “I’m proud of my Aunt Tammie for overcoming her problems. Aunt Tammie is a great role model for me and my cousins. She taught us no matter how big the problem is, always keep a positive attitude. I believe that she can achieve anything, as long as she keeps the faith.”
Other Team Pink Gems members were on hand to support the cause. Member Wilma Davis, a 14-year breast cancer survivor, said that though battling the disease was a harrowing experience, in many ways it was also a blessing in disguise.
“It was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me, really, because you don’t waste a minute on things that aren’t really worthy,” Davis said. “You just enjoy every single moment.”