Ladies golf during the Pink Ribbon Rally

From left, Susan Jelsma, Diane Simmons, Sandi Poe and Cheryl Hammarstrom pose for a photo on the second hole.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday the drizzle stopped, the clouds parted and ladies from across Alaska gathered for the 8th annual Pink Ribbon Rally at Birch Ridge Golf Course in Soldotna.


On the ninth hole, before Teeing off for the nine-hole scramble, a moment of silence was observed as 100 pink balloons were released into the sky in remembrance of those who have lost their battle to cancer.

“It was beautiful,” said Sharon Keating, one of six on the Rally Committee. “It was the first time we released balloons.”

The golf course was filled with women of all ages, dressed in a variety of pink hues, who came out to help raise funds for charity.

Judy Keck-Walsh, a member of the Rally committee, said all funds raised at the charity event would go to benefit Central Peninsula Health Foundation Breast Cancer Fund.

“It is very fun. It is not about being a great golfer,” Keck-Walsh said. “The bonding of women is amazing.”

Last year the event raised $23,000, all donated locally, bringing the overall total of the event to $87, 000. Keck-Walsh said this year they were hoping to make it to a round number.

“We would love to make the $100,000 mark this year,” she said.

Keck-Walsh said the money raised has purchased plane tickets for cancer patients and most recently $20,000 was used to purchase a special cushion for the biopsy table.

“That was our biggest purchase,” she said “We do all kinds of things for Breast Cancer patients.”

For Keck-Walsh, the Pink Ribbon Rally is an event close to her heart. Since her involvement, she has battled Breast Cancer and now celebrates three years free from cancer.

“You never think it is going to be you,” she said.

With pink sequin hats, boas, neon pink golf shoes and tracksuits that graced the greens, the Rally also sported a Hawaiian theme, adding leis and grass skirts to the mix. Each lady made a point to wear something pink and something festive for the cause.

Before the golfing began, participants browsed through the silent auction items donated by many local businesses, many with a breast cancer theme, and looked at the many prizes to win during the day’s events.

For Tina Marie Herford, a 15-year survivor of Breast Cancer, attending the event for the second year in a row was special.

“I had a blast last year. It is very inspirational to be around these women,” she said.

“I feel very lucky,” she said.

Once the golf began, carts whizzed around and golfers with bags trekked to the green to begin the informal game. Unlike typical golf, each hole had goals such as the ball that makes it closest to the pink line wins or the longest marshmallow drive wins a prize. There were also opportunities for team pictures and others for lots of laughter and fun.

Mary Gasperlin, of Anchorage, said she has never attended a Breast Cancer event and was excited to come down for the weekend and be a part of the Pink Ribbon Rally.

“It was a great opportunity to come down to support my neighbors and celebrate sisterhood,” she said.

After the golf game, the ladies also enjoyed lunch, and played several games with prizes and participated a live auction.

Keck-Walsh said next years Pink Ribbon Rally would be held on Aug. 3.


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