Apex High School seniors Dipali Aphale and Karen Cheng are hoping, of course, that the Beyond the Ribbon Ball they’re hosting this weekend is a fun night that brings in lots of money for the breast cancer foundation they chose as the event’s beneficiary.
But they also hope their guests will leave feeling that they’ve gained something, too.
“I hope people get the same feeling we do when we took on this project,” Dipali said. “We are just very devoted to this and it has impacted us in so many ways. … We really hope to convey that to our audience, and hopefully they’ll get the same feeling of community.”
The young women, friends since sixth grade, have been working on the Beyond the Ribbon Ball since last summer, when they decided they wanted to take on a community service project in conjunction with DECA, their school’s marketing club.
By the time the school year started, they “hit the ground running,” Dipali said. They’ve been planning and publicizing the event, coordinating volunteers, gathering support from local businesses and getting their school involved through events like T-shirt sales and Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities.
“We did a couple of the typical high school things, but we kind of wanted to extend it to a more mature and responsible activity,” Dipali said. “And I feel like a gala would attract a certain target market that would have more to do with what our goal is, and that is to raise money for underinsured breast cancer patients.”
They hope to raise $5,000 for the locally based Pretty in Pink Foundation, which provides financial assistance to uninsured or underinsured patients receiving breast cancer treatment.
Right from the start, Dipali and Karen knew they wanted their project to help people with breast cancer, and Pretty in Pink seemed to them like the most direct way to do so.
“We have a few friends whose moms have breast cancer,” Karen said, “and since the money stays local and we’re doing a community service project, we wanted to do something that would directly affect people here.”
The name of the ball was an easy decision, too, they said. They wanted to keep the focus on the patients as people who have identities beyond the disease and its effects.
“Really what we want to do is celebrate what else they have to offer,” Dipali said. “So we named it Beyond the Ribbon because we kind of want to look beyond their disease and see past all that. They already know they have breast cancer; we don’t need to remind them again. I think it’s to uplift them.”
The ball will feature dinner and dessert, a silent auction, guest speakers and classical music provided by Apex High students.
Putting the ball together has been a lot of work, but Karen and Dipali said they’ll have no problem enjoying themselves when the big night finally arrives.
"I just hope it’s a special and fun night,” Karen said. “We’ve worked on this for so many months, and to see it finally happen is going to be such a rewarding experience.”
Even as they’ve worked to benefit breast cancer patients, the girls have reaped some benefits themselves in the form of lessons learned.
“I think the biggest learning curve we’ve had is that things that really matter to you take so much determination,” said Dipali. “I will tell you, me and Karen have gotten maybe 100 no’s before we got 10 yeses. It’s things like that that can’t really get you down and can’t deter you from your ultimate goal. It’s kind of become more than a project to us. It’s a personal thing where we want to help these women out.”
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