A project of the Cape Girardeau County Area Medical Society Alliance since 2004, the tree is used as a fundraiser to help Turning Point, a unique seven-week program for anyone diagnosed with breast cancer within the past year.
"People look forward to the tree every year and want to know when it will go up" says Emily LaValle, president of the Alliance. The tree, which has a different theme each year, is decorated with ornaments made by Alliance members. This year's theme, "Imagine Another Birthday," was inspired by the American Cancer Society's "More Birthdays" campaign, and features birthday cake, candle and gift-themed ornaments. Toward the end of the season, the ornaments may be purchased for a donation to the Turning Point program.
The tree also is interactive, which helps raise awareness of the disease, LaValle says. "People can add the names of loved ones who have been affected by breast cancer to the tree. It's always amazing how many names are added."
Alliance member Denise Salmon says it's inspiring to read the quotes and memories that people sometimes include with the names. "We encourage breast cancer survivors and those who know someone who has had breast cancer to come by and add their names to the tree," she notes.
The Alliance tries to give back to the community by promoting healthcare awareness and supporting health-related charitable organizations, according to LaValle and Salmon. "We have a close partnership with Southeast Hospital, and we like to support its affiliated programs," adds Alliance member Janet Silliman.
To learn more about the Turning Point program, call Southeast HealthPoint Plaza at 984-4411.