Local Soroptimists say it's time to lace up your tennies, grab your wine glass and sign up for the sixth annual Soroptimist Wine Walk for Women's Health.
The scenic, 3.5-mile walk begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16, and assists uninsured and under-insured women in the Rogue Valley with their health care needs.
For more information about the Wine Walk for Women's Health, call Julie Brimble at 541-840-4478, Kathy Garrett Canape at 541-482-6288, or see the websites at www.siwinewalk.com or www.soroptimistRV.org.
It costs $35 for individual participants, and there are plenty of openings for individuals, teams and sponsors, said Kathy Garrett Canape, a member of Soroptimist International of Ashland.
Walkers will visit vineyards at Del Rio Vineyard and Winery in Gold Hill and sample wines from seven vineyards: Cliff Creek Cellars, Del Rio Vineyard and Winery, EdenVale Winery, LongSword/Fly High Vineyard, Quady North Winery, Serra Vineyards and Slagle Creek Vineyards.
Canape said local Soroptimist members are dedicated to raising money to help women get medical attention, but they need shoes on the ground and checks in hand to help women such as Diana Aarons of Rogue River.
Aarons, 61, said she used money raised in previous walks to get a long-overdue mammogram after losing her health insurance more than four years ago.
With a family history of breast cancer, Aarons knew she should be getting regular mammography testing. But living on a tight budget, and without insurance, "there just aren't a lot of outlets available," she said.
"Women have a tendency to put their own health on the back burner," Aarons said.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and heart disease is now the No. 1 killer of women in the United States. Fighting these diseases and other cancers that affect women can be financially and emotionally straining, Canape said.
Aarons is grateful she was finally able to get her mammogram at Community Health Center in Medford, and even more grateful doctors gave her good news about her scan. She said she knows early detection is often the key to survival.
"Cancer, unfortunately, isn't necessarily a forgiving thing," Aarons said. "I lost my best friend a year ago to cancer."
Local Soroptimists have distributed $10,000 to $12,000 annually from Wine Walk proceeds for the past five years. All of the money generated from the Wine Walk will stay in Jackson and Josephine counties, Canape said.
"I know that I am just one of the many, many people they have helped," Aarons said. "I would be walking if my knees would hold up. They help so many people."
Funds will be distributed to various hospitals and community groups for the purpose of detecting and treating breast cancer, as well as for providing support services for those with heart disease and other types of cancers, such as uterine and ovarian, related specifically to women's health. Some potential recipients include the American Cancer Society, Asante, Ashland Community Hospital and Providence Community Health Foundation, Canape said.
Businesses, churches, groups and individuals are invited to form teams to celebrate the day with wine, live music, food and costumes. Along with wine-tasting, registered participants will receive a souvenir wine glass, snack and team photos. For information about sponsorships and tickets, see the Wine Walk website at www.siwinewalk.org or www.soroptimistRV.org.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.