Organizers of the Pink Luncheon celebrated, kicking off its second decade of helping residents in Parker County, receive needed mammograms, biopsies and screenings. More than 800 attended the wildly popular event Friday to listen to this year’s special guest speaker, Kelly Pickler and her best friend, Summer Miller.
Miller’s relationship with Pickler began as young adults, Pickler just 17 and Miller 27. The two lived about a mile from each other in North Carolina.
“I came from a broken home,” Pickler said. “I met Summer and her family after my granny had passed. She and her family took me in.”
Pickler said that her relationship with Summer became more than a friendship - it was a “sisterhood.”
“Her mom was like my mom,” Pickler said. “I’ve been blessed to have Summer in my life, and to have her family take me in and be a part of the family.”
The two spoke of how in 2006, Pickler found herself with a gold ticket, set to appear as a contestant on the fifth season of American Idol, Miller by her side.
Even though she didn’t win, her success in music continued, and she grew in popularity. In fact, in 2013, she and Derek Hough won the coveted mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars.
Pickler said though, when she learned of Summer’s breast cancer diagnosis, it was one of the hardest days of her life.
“When I was diagnosed...it was really hard,” Summer said. “I texted Kellie and told her - it was what it was. She caught the first flight she could and came home.”
Summer said she remembered she and Kellie cried together.
“She kept asking me what could she do to help,” Summer said. “Kellie is the type that wants to fix things. She thrives where there’s a problem, but this was something she couldn’t fix. But, she kept asking and asking to the point it was getting on my nerves so I said shave your head with me. She said she would.”
Kellie told the audience - “it’s just hair.”
Miller was diagnosed at 36 with breast cancer and in June of 2017 will be five years in remission.
“The Pink Luncheon motto has always been ‘No One Has Cancer Alone." This year was a prime example of how important support can be to cancer patients,” said Evon Markum, volunteer coordinator of the luncheon. “This fundraiser event would not be possible without the many volunteers.”
Markum said the Parker County Sheriff's Posse assisted with parking, while the Zonta Ladies; New River Woman's Ministry; Trinity Christian staff and many others enjoyed putting the bags together and set up the room.
“The New River Leadership Team did a wonderful job with all of the preparations,” Markum added. “Many lives are saved in Parker County with the use of Pink Luncheon dollars and 100 percent of all monies stay here, in Parker County.”
▪ The first Pink Luncheon was in 2006, with about 125 in attendance. Many guest speakers have taken the stage since the inaugural lunch, some cancer survivors, others touched by cancer through family members.
Some of the more notable speakers through the years have included Linda Armstrong Kelly, Author; Anne Barab, Jenine Turner, Actor and Author; LaDonna Gatlin, singer and Author; Leslie Mouton, News Anchor San Antonio; Jill Conley, Survivor and Jill’s Wish Foundation; Betty Buckley, Broadway Star and Singer.
The luncheon is co-emceed by Karen Borta, of KTVT and Brent Baker, of Weatherford College.