DIY Success Stories

Alice DiSanto & Gina Bertolino

DIY event: Mystic Makeover Fashion Show
Funds Raised to Date: $20,000
Photo credits: Jean Terman

When people think of the Avon Foundation, they may often think of the popular Avon Walk for Breast Cancer event series, but not all breast cancer warriors are logging miles in their sneakers! "Roadway or runway, we all walk for breast cancer." This sentiment is shared by the Mystic Makeover Fashion Show for Breast Cancer Awareness co-founders Gina Bertolino and Alice DiSanto. These two women, and their dynamic team of volunteers, organize an annual Do It Yourself fundraising event to benefit the Avon Foundation for Women, featuring high-heeled "Mystic Pink Diva” breast cancer survivors rather than the more expected sneaker-clad Avon Walk for Breast Cancer participants.

In the four years since the "Mystic Pink Divas" first hit the runway on Oct. 4, 2009, nearly $20,000 has been raised for the Avon Foundation for Women. Of the 101 women who have participated to date, 50% have been breast cancer survivors. What began humbly with a handful of helpers has grown to an astounding 199 volunteers of both genders and all ages.

The goals of the event are unwavering and clearly resonate with a community whose enthusiasm, volunteerism, and donations continue to grow. The fashion show seeks to honor breast cancer survivors with a day of celebration, hope, and beauty during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). By unifying neighbors, businesses, and community groups, this fantastic team has been a great supporter of the Avon Foundation’s Breast Cancer Crusade.

All of this is achieved through one magnificent day each year filled with beauty, music, multi-media, refreshments, and raffles galore. Friends and family celebrate breast cancer survivors with fashion makeovers, and survivors enjoy an experience they can cherish following a formative, personal battle. Funds are raised through ticket sales, raffles, 50/50 sales, pink ribbon sales, pink ribbon cookies, lollipops, and donations. In addition, both the venue and entertainment are generously donated each year.

Alice and Gina help build awareness in their community, and the funds they raise help people who are fighting breast cancer right now, as well as fund life-saving research. Create a DIY event of your own today!

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Cynthia VanMeter

DIY event: International Women’s Day Fundraisers, 2014 & 2015
Funds Raised to Date: $950+

Domestic violence is an issue that impacts one in every four women nationwide. New York Baker Cynthia VanMeter experienced domestic violence first-hand, and she is on a mission to spread the word about domestic violence and raise money for the Avon Foundation for Women’s Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program.

"Domestic violence plagued my early childhood, and I often have flashbacks of what my mother experienced. Everyone deserves a life free of violence, and nobody should have to experience the type of emotional and physical abuse that my family had to endure," states Cynthia. Thankfully, VanMeter's mother found the strength to leave her violent relationship and find support with the help of close family and friends after several years.

Cynthia hails from Pearl River, N.Y. and started on her fundraising path by creating sweet treats for friends and loved ones in early 2014. "I started my first Heavenly Haley’s Cakes bake sale for teen dating violence awareness month in February 2014. My friend Laura, an Avon Representative, shared the Avon Foundation’s #SeeTheSigns campaign with me and I was motivated to do something for the cause. I set up a small bake sale and to my surprise, raised nearly $1,000 to benefit Avon Foundation’s Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Program.”

This year, Cynthia kick-started another DIY Fundraiser in honor of the Avon Foundation’s #SpeakOut campaign which launched on March 3. She also plans to share resources about the new #SpeakOut campaign with her local community in observance of International Women’s Day.

"The future starts with us, and our children deserve better. We must share a positive message with our friends and families to raise awareness about violent relationships, because they are unacceptable. If we all work together to raise awareness and speak out, imagine the positive shift that could take in our culture,” stated Cynthia.
The best part? VanMeter's daughter, Haley, has become an advocate in her own community as well. She is extremely passionate about cause-related fundraising, and has taken on the issue of domestic violence now that her mother has talked to her about her grandmother's story.

"Our community has been extremely supportive, and this fundraiser has brought on more awareness than I expected."

Thank you Cynthia, for your sweet fundraising efforts and for speaking out about domestic violence.

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Evelyn Shelton

DIY event: Cooking for a Cause events
Funds Raised to Date: $2200+

DIY-er and executive chef Evelyn Shelton combines her passion and talent for cooking with her desire to help fight breast cancer. While she has several causes she cares deeply about, breast cancer is at the top of the list, not only for her but so many others, and so she creates a fun (and delicious) way for people to show their support. "Cooking for a Cause" is the result -- she has already held two successful events and plans to host more.

How does it work? Evelyn contributes some of her own funds (the amount she would typically donate to a favorite charity anyway) and then gets people/organizations to contribute to the events by providing space (outdoors) and other donations. She recruits volunteers who help her plan and execute the events and plans to ask other chefs to help at future events. She cooks up some delicious food, and for a minimum donation of $25, attendees get to enjoy her culinary creations along with non-alcoholic beverages, raffles and movies under the stars on a big screen! Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase and those proceeds go back to the cause as well.

Evelyn hopes to host more of these events and would love to see them grow. She is thankful for the generous partners and community support she’s received so far and hopes that support will continue so she can keep donating 100% of the proceeds.

This quote from Arthur Ashe -- a favorite of Evelyn’s – sums up her DIY efforts: "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." She is indeed doing that!

We are so thankful to Evelyn for her DIY efforts. With each meal she serves at her Cooking for a Cause events, she’s helping spread awareness about breast cancer and raising important funds that will help people get the breast cancer care they need regardless of their ability to pay for it.

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Wendy Wood Barletta

DIY event: Annual Dance Performance
Funds Raised to Date: $42,000+

Fantastic fundraiser Wendy Barletta hosts an annual dance performance fundraiser to benefit Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade and Speak Out Against Domestic Violence programs. At her 2013 event approximately 100 local dancers from the Westchester, NY area along with Manhattan-based professional dancers, including a piece by “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist Billy Bell, brought a beautiful collection off magnificent dances to the stage. Wendy, a Dance Works Event Producer and Company Director from Harrison, NY brings incredible dancers together each year in a non-competitive environment to celebrate dance, delight audiences, and ultimately change lives.

The 2013 event was held at the Performing Art Center at Rye Country Day School in Rye, NY and raised more than $3,400, bringing Wendy’s total fundraising for the Avon Foundation to more than $42,000 to date! Funds were raised through ticket sales and will bring help and hope to women and their families who are dealing with the devastation of breast cancer and domestic violence.

And Wendy is at it again — she’s busy planning her 2014 Dance Works Fundraiser Showcase and we are sure it will be another fabulous success!

We thank Wendy for her hard work and dedication. It is grassroots fundraising and awareness efforts like this that are essential to making a change and ending breast cancer and domestic violence. Together we are making a difference.

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