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Activity-Filled Hats Off to Women Event Raises Funds for Nancy Reagan Breast Center

Hats Off to Women 2009

A recording-breaking 350 guests gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum for the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation’s annual Hats Off to Women luncheon and fashion show on April 17. The day was planned and hosted by the First Ladies of the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation, led by chairperson Leigh Nixon.

The event raised approximately $24,000 for the Nancy Reagan Breast Center at SVH, which will use the funds to provide free screening mammograms for women in the community who have no insurance or whose insurance does not cover mammograms.

Ann JillianHeadlining the event was Golden Globe-winning actress and singer Ann Jillian. A breast cancer survivor who adds motivational speaking to her long list of accomplishments, Jillian’s presentation was titled “Surviving, Thriving and Winning.” She topped off her presentation with a cappella renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

“We were so excited to have Ann Jillian with us this year,” said Susan Myers, executive director of the SVH Foundation. “Her name alone is an attention-getter, but the fact that she is a cancer survivor and she has such a passion for encouraging women to live their life to the fullest just increases her appeal.”

Much to See and Do

Earlier in the day, Hats Off guests had the opportunity to participate in a variety of health screenings offered by Regal and Lakeside Community medical groups. Afterward, attendees were treated to a delectable catered meal in a banquet hall festooned with bunting, live azalea plants, balloon bouquets and a stage backdrop of a pink hat in the style of a giant-sized needlepoint square.

During the luncheon, local resident Susan Dragoo touched the hearts of the guests with her story of how a free mammogram at the NRBC saved her life by detecting her breast cancer while it was still at a treatable stage. Dragoo is one of more than 250 women who have received free mammograms at the NRBC.

Inspired by Dragoo’s testimonial, the crowd took part in a live auction led by Scott Santino. Auction items included dinner with Ventura County Firehouse 45, a full-body scan at SVH, a $1,000 Ultimate Body Aesthetics gift certificate and a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise.

The luncheon also included a fashion show featuring the hottest styles from a number of Simi Valley Town Center Mall stores and accessories from Brighton Collectibles.

Honoring Local Heroines

Sally Grant, 2009 Woman of the Year
Sally Grant, 2009 Woman of the Year

The Hats Off event’s annual Woman of the Year program provided a venue to recognize several area women for their outstanding contributions to their community. This year, Joanne Abruzzese, Sally Grant, Michele Hernandez, Peggy Sadler and Linda White were honored for their dedication and generosity in service to their community.

At the event, Grant was named the 2009 Woman of the Year. She is a local resident and businesswoman who has volunteered for decades in a number of organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, the 4-H Club, Girls Scouts, Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce and the PTA.

“It was such a thrill to be part of this day,” Myers said. “It was just such a beautiful, classy and meaningful event—and a true celebration of women. I am so grateful to the First Ladies and to everyone who helped with the event and, of course, to all those wonderful, generous people who attended.”

Posted 5/4/09