STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Pink Zone wanted to honor survivors in a unique way at its post-game reception for this year’s Pink Zone game.
Kenn Starr had been attending Pink Zone games for many years and thought that his winery might be able to help. What resulted was a truly special experience for the breast cancer survivors that attended the game on Feb. 25.
Pink Zone has worked with Penn State Lady Lion basketball since 2006 to honor breast cancer survivors at one game each season.
The event raises money for breast cancer research, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and education.
Pink Zone has six beneficiaries: Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, Mount Nittany Health, PA Breast Cancer Coalition and Penn State Cancer Institute.
Pink Zone honors survivors on the court during halftime, where each survivor displays how long she has been cancer-free. After being honored, survivors attend a post-game reception. This year, they received a special gift courtesy of Starr.
Starr owns Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery. The winery is located on 13 acres of land in Curwensville, Pa. Starr’s father began making wine with his own father in the 1950’s.
His father was stationed in the Air Force in the 1960’s, where he learned to make wine in Germany. By 1967, Starr’s father and brother started making their own wine as a hobby while the family was involved in the financial services business.
In the 1990’s, the family bought the land in Curwensville that now hosts Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery. In October of 2005, the vineyard was licensed to sell wine commercially. Starr’s son now makes the wine, keeping the business in the family for four generations.
Starr and his wife attended many Pink Zone games in the past. Starr’s wife used to work at Hershey Medical Center in oncology as a doctor of pharmacy.
Her work exposed her to the horrors of cancer, which motivated her to support Pink Zone. As she was speaking with a colleague one day about the winery, the colleague mentioned that the winery should collaborate with Pink Zone. The colleague was the daughter of Pink Zone’s new executive director, Sue Woodring.
Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery had done a number of other charity events with different organizations, including WPSU, Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Clearfield Revitalization Corp., Penn State DuBois Athletics and the Central PA Humane Society. Starr believed that collaborating with Pink Zone would be a great next step.
Woodring and Starr collaborated on creating a wine experience for survivors that would be held at the post-game reception.
They decided to provide every survivor with a bottle of Pink Zone’s own wine. Starr worked with Pink Zone to design a custom label and chose a wine that would be universally enjoyed.
He introduced the bottles at the dinner before the game at Kish Bank. At the post-game reception, more than 500 survivors received a complimentary bottle of Pink Zone wine.
Starr chose a wine that he hoped would be palatable for all. The wine uses a Niagara grape, which features a fruit-forward flavor that is on the sweeter side. According to Starr, 60 to 70 percent of the wine sold nationally is sweet wine, so he wanted to appeal to the majority.
Starr said he wanted to work with Pink Zone because, “Who hasn’t been touched by this cause?” He says he is honored to have been a part of the collaboration.
The donation Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery made to Pink Zone is one of the largest gifts they’ve made. The gift overwhelmed survivors, who wrote handwritten thank-you notes to Starr.
Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery has plans to distribute the Pink Zone wine commercially and gift a portion of the sales.
They are the first winery to be located in Wal-Mart stores and have multiple locations in Pennsylvania. In one month, over 150,000 people walk past their stores. Starr believes that distributing the wine would help gain lots of recognition for Pink Zone around Pennsylvania.
Pink Zone’s collaboration with Starr Hill Vineyard and Winery demonstrates the unique ways in which the organization honors survivors and raises funds.
The partnership helped to create a memorable experience and keepsake for an event that means so much to those affected by breast cancer.
In the years to come, survivors will be able to reflect upon the gift they received at the post-game reception that recognized their strength and persistence as survivors.
For more information on Pink Zone, visit www.papinkzone.org.