By Maxine Winston | April 24, 2017 | People
May means gala month in Boston, but it also signals the arrive of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s annual Hot Pink Party, being held on May 1 at the InterContinental Boston. Simone Winston, the recipient of the 2017 Carolyn Lynch Humanitarian Award, and a driving force in Boston behind BCRF’s funding, was interviewed by her daughter, Maxine, ahead of the big event this spring.
Maxine Winston: Tell me a bit more about your involvement with BCRF. How did you get started with the organization, and what is your involvement today?
Simone Winston: I was introduced to BCRF through an invitation to the Hot Pink Party in Boston a few years ago. The event made me aware of the sheer number of people who were impacted by breast cancer in my life. Although my cancer experience was different from theirs, I felt an instant connection to what I was hearing from those who had been impacted by breast cancer at the event. Since I have gotten involved, my connections to the organization have grown stronger every year. The group is all extremely committed to Being the End, which is the slogan of the organization. We all feel a tremendous sense of pride in the advancements in treatment that BCRF has been instrumental in realizing. I currently sit on the National Advisory Board and try to engage several times a year in symposiums with research grant recipients as well as board meetings in New York and other fundraising and awareness-raising events around the country.
MW: What has inspired you to stay involved with the BCRF?
SW: What I've found to be most important to me is the community that the BCRF, in the legacy of Evelyn Lauder, has been able to create. Every single person involved with the BCRF from its staff to its board to its supporters is committed to the organization, and doesn't just provide lip service to the organization. They all feel a sense of real ownership and pride in being a part of the organization. The BCRF staff is tremendously devoted to and supportive of fundraising and research to benefit those battling breast cancer. Their devotion is contagious.
MW: Tell us more about what BCRF does?
SW: The BCRF was founded by Evelyn Lauder to raise funds to help fight breast cancer. 91 cents of every dollar the organization raises is given in grants to researchers identifying and studying the science related to breast cancer and the treatment of and cures for breast cancer.
MW: How have you seen these contributions to the BCRF come to fruition?
SW: Many members of the BCRF are living examples of how funding for breast cancer research has allowed them to be in remission and has cured them from a disease that would have surely been fatal only several years ago.
Simone and Maxine Winston.
MW: Can you tell me a bit more about your involvement with Charity in Bloom? How did the program start?
SW: Charity in Bloom was created by my husband Ted [Winston] six years ago. It's a monthly partnership between Winston Flowers and a nonprofit organization with a focus on children and families. Each month, a series of arrangements is created and 20 percent of the proceeds are directed back to that organization. To date, Winston Flowers has donated more than $1.5 million to over 30 national and local organizations. My role for the last few years has been to help choose our Charity in Bloom partners for the year and to create the connections with the organizations to create opportunities for those charities to succeed in the program. Ted felt that it was a great way for us to connect not only with organizations that we as a family have supported, but also to connect with other organizations that are important to our customers.
MW: How has Charity in Bloom given to the BCRF?
SW: For the past few years, the BCRF has been the recipient of Charity in Bloom in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition to the work we have done in Boston and New York for events, the BCRF has been our partner for the past 4 years.
MW: How else does Winston Flowers give back to the Boston community??
SW:The Winston Flowers family has taken great pride in being able to work with so many organizations nationally and locally on more than 100 fundraising events yearly. Recently, we became inaugural members of the Perkins Business Partnership. The PBP is comprised of a group of Boston businesses working with the Perkins School that is trying to reduce barriers to entry for people with visual impairments in the job sector. We've done summer job training on Perkins' campus and are working to build greater awareness of these peoples' abilities in the job market.
Winston Flowers arrangement from the 2015 Hot Pink Party.
MW: I know that the annual BCRF Hot Pink Party is coming up soon [on May 1]. What are you most excited about with this year's Hot Pink party?
SW: I love to dance! Celebrating the BCRF and their accomplishments is the best reason to dance all night with my friends and family.
MW: You're also the winner of the Carolyn Lynch Humanitarian Award this year. What does winning that award mean to you?
SW: Carolyn Lynch was a beautiful - wow, this is going to make me cry. Carolyn Lynch was a beautiful and admired member of our city's community. She took great pride in helping others and I'm very humbled to be affiliated with this award and her legacy.
The Hot Pink Party will be held at the InterContinental Boston on May 1 at 6 p.m. with a special performance by Nile Rodgers and the Ladies of CHIC. Buy tickets here.
Photography by Julie Skarratt (Maxine and Simon); Michael Blanchard (floral arrangement)