Breast cancer survivors, families reconnect on beaches of OB

BY Melanie LeCroy
Lifestyle Editor
melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/24/22

Nine families will spend this week enjoying a free week-long vacation. The strangers from across the United States share one thing in common - breast cancer.The Little Pink House of Hope is a …

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Breast cancer survivors, families reconnect on beaches of OB

Posted

Nine families will spend this week enjoying a free week-long vacation. The strangers from across the United States share one thing in common - breast cancer.

The Little Pink House of Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides free week-long vacations for breast cancer survivors and their families. The retreats are an opportunity for the families to reconnect, celebrate life and make lasting memories.

This week marks the eighth retreat in Orange Beach, and retreat coordinator Robi Jones said the local community makes her job easy.

"I have been working with this organization for seven years, and the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area has really opened their hearts to this whole project," Jones said. "I live locally and that makes me so proud of our community. I can reach out to folks, and they are so willing and wanting to do whatever they can to help."

The Little Pink House of Hope retreats take place throughout the year in 20 distinct locations in 10 different states. The generosity of the local communities makes the retreats possible. Accommodations, meals, activities and more are donated by local businesses.

Breast Cancer survivors apply to the program and pick three destinations they could travel to easily. Families are only required to provide transportation to and from the retreat and to attend the opening and closing retreat meetings, but there's plenty more to do if they choose.

Locally, Turquoise Place has been the primary sponsor of lodging since the Orange Beach Retreat began eight years ago.

"We are very fortunate that our primary supporter for lodging has been Turquoise Place," Jones said. "They got us up and going in the local area and we are so appreciative of that relationship. It is so much fun taking families into those beautiful units. It is so incredible to be able to have the families experience that."

Ashlee Lowry, marketing director for Spectrum Resorts, said Spectrum Resorts donates five 3-bedroom condos to the organization and have two to three private condo owners sign up each year to donate their condo. The retreat guests also have an event space for the week where they can gather and have meals together. Lowry said they also coordinate two meals through their catering department during the retreat as well.

"We do this because we want to be a part of something special," Lowry said. "A week vacation without worrying about medical bills, treatments and stress in general. This retreat costs them nothing and gives them so many special memories to take home with them."

Throughout the week, the families are treated to at least one meal and one activity through the organization each day so families can spend quality time together. In Orange Beach, the itinerary includes a dolphin cruise at Cold Mi Fleet and paddleboarding at Wind and Water Learning Center. The families also enjoy a beach photo session with a photographer.

"Many of these families struggled while they were going through treatment and many have not had the opportunity to do something like this with their families since the diagnosis," Jones said. "They have the opportunity to reconnect as a family, but also connect with other families that are going through the same experience. There is a lot of bonding that goes on from the kids to the participants and all the family members. There is a lot more that they take away from it and they maintain those relationships after they leave."

Jones, a retired nurse practitioner, found the organization while researching resources for her patients and has spent the past seven years volunteering for the Orange Beach retreat.

"When I found out they were going to have a retreat in the Orange Beach area I decided to take a weeks' worth of vacation to go and volunteer with the organization," Jones said. "It is so rewarding, and I am so glad I did. Even though I have retired from my full-time position, I am still very committed to being involved with this organization just because of what they are able to accomplish for families and what it provides.

"Our families go away so appreciative and so much more comfortable. Whatever the struggles are that they are going to go back to don't necessarily go away just because they come here. But maybe they are going to be able to deal with those a little bit better."

To learn more about Little Pink House of Hope organization, the retreat or how to volunteer, visit littlepink.org. If you would like to donate a condo, house, services or your time, contact Robi Jones at robi@littlepink.org or (251) 716-1790.

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