CURWENSVILLE – While many stomped grapes Saturday afternoon at the Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery, they were really united to stomp out breast cancer. The benefit “Love Strong Grape Stomp” supported the Bri’s Angels Breast Cancer Support Group.
Bri’s Angels is named in memory of Briana Cowder, 30, who died Oct. 23, 2007, after losing her battle with cancer. She was married to Chad Cowder, of Clearfield. She is the mother of two sons, Case Kramer, 17, and Owen Cowder, 6.
Briana was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28 when she found a lump on her breast. She had the lump removed before undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t ever well enough to have reconstructive surgery. After time her cancer became metastatic, spreading to her brain, lungs and behind her eyes.
Briana’s mother, Joan Dixon said the event makes her realize how loved Briana really was. She said it means so much to her that the Starr family hosts the event annually.
“It makes my heart sing. It really does,” Dixon said. “It makes me miss her more.”
This year, the Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery is also making a signature wine in memory of Briana to benefit Bri’s Angels. The wine, “Lovestrong,” will feature a label donated Perry Winkler Galleries. A portion of all sales of Lovestrong will be given to Bri’s Angels.
“I cannot wait to taste the wine. It couldn’t be anything other than spectacular,” Dixon said.
As Briana’s mom, Dixon said her favorite part of support event is talking about Briana. She said she never knew or really realized how many friends Briana had when she was alive.
“I don’t think she (Briana) would believe it,” Dixon said of the impact her daughter’s had on people’s lives and also through the Bri’s Angels annual event. “She never thought of herself as in the spotlight of anything, other than in her family’s life.”
This is the fourth annual event, but the event has previously been held in October. In the past, the grape stomp has been held the day before the actual benefit event. This year, it was combined with the Bri’s Angels benefit.
The cancer support group is comprised of area cancer survivors and patients as well as their family members and close friends. The purpose of the group is to offer families, friends and patients support and to lend an ear when someone needs to talk.
New members are always welcome to the group and there isn’t any charge to the members. Meetings are held the second Thursday on a quarterly basis. They begin at 6 p.m. in the first floor conference room at the Clearfield Hospital.
Musical entertainment was provided by the Rum Drums of DuBois, and the Grape Stomp included teams that stomped grapes to stomp out cancer. There were also wellness exhibits, vendors and a book signing gala by author J.S. (Jamie) Wilsoncroft.
Each vendor donated a prize that those in attendance could take chances to win. Chances for those prizes were available for purchase and these proceeds are going to be donated to Bri’s Angels.
Kenn Starr of Starr Hill Winery and Vineyard said their involvement in Bri’s Angels came through his wife, Jacque, who works at the Clearfield Hospital. She had attended a meeting during which Bri’s Angels attempted to get funding for their organization.
“It’s a great cause for a worthy group of individuals who help with the support aspects of cancer, the survivors and the folks that are battling,” Starr said. “Everyone knows someone who has been touched one way or another, relative, parent, grandparent, cousin, friend or neighbor, so everyone needs a little comfort in that time of uneasiness.”