September 27, 1999
Julie Davidson received the 'Making A Difference Award' at the Race for the Cure.
by Deborah Stone
Longtime area resident Julie Davidson is the recipient of this year's "Making a Difference Award" for her fundraising efforts on behalf of breast cancer prevention activities, education, treatment, and support services for women.
Davidson was recognized for her contributions in this area at the recent Race for the Cure in Seattle. Her work began in seriousness four years ago after a close friend died of breast cancer at the age of thirty-three.
"My friend was an amazing woman who fought this disease with everything she had, and throughout her fight, she helped educate other women about early detection, mammography, and the need for self-examination," explains Davidson. "The night before she died, I was with her and she was in obvious discomfort. I asked her what I could do to help her, thinking maybe she needed some water or another pillow. Instead, she made me promise that I would help find a cure for breast cancer and that I would not stop until that goal had been attained."
In 1996, Davidson got a group of her friends together to help organize a fundraiser to benefit the Evergreen Hospice and Health Care Foundation. The first Women for Women's Health Pledge Luncheon was held at the Bellevue Athletic Club and 250 people attended. The event netted $60,000, which was distributed to education and screening programs and to helping give women the support they needed from the point of diagnosis on through the subsequent treatment phases. The second luncheon was held at a bigger venue to accommodate the 750 attendees.
"We knew by this time that this was a growing event," explains Davidson, "and that we would soon need a place to hold at least 1,000 people." Last year, Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue was the site for the luncheon and a 1,000 people attended.
Over the past three years, Women for Women's Health has raised over three-quarters of a million dollars. The money now is jointly distributed to both the Evergreen and Overlake foundations and focuses on the target populations of low-income women and working poor women, as well as senior citizens and teens.
Outreach programs, free mammogram services, education materials, breast cancer support groups, information and referral networks, pre- and post-op classes, volunteer training, and bereavement and grief counseling services have all benefited by the funds raised through the Women for Women's Health Pledge Luncheons.
"We are making a difference," says Davidson. "The statistics show that there is a higher percentage of early detection cases compared to four years ago. This means that more women are aware of breast health issues and realize that with early detection, their odds at beating the disease are significantly higher."
For Davidson, receiving the "Making a Difference Award" is a true honor, but she prefers to share it with all the women on the planning committee who have helped make these annual pledge luncheons a reality. This year, she has stepped down as committee chair, but she will still be actively involved in the event and will continue to be an advocate for women's health.
"We, as a community, need to keep an open dialogue and come together to work on issues that we care about," comments Davidson. "We need to believe in ourselves and realize that ordinary people can do extraordinary things."