Terry Spicer’s heart is bigger than Texas. That about sums her up. She’s a visionary, this beautiful, intelligent, passionate woman on a mission to connect cancer patients to the treatment they deserve, without regard to their race, ethnicity, age, gender, or insurance status. Born out of her desire to honor Gwendolyn Williams Bishop, a dear friend to her who passed away from cancer, Terry, along with her husband Stacey Spicer, Sr., formed the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Sisters Inspiring Sisters, Inc., and took off on an adventure unknown, only knowing that she had to do something to help in the fight of this disease.
The Sisters Inspiring Sisters, Inc., affectionately known as The SISI, celebrated its 3rd anniversary in February 2016, and hosted its 4th Annual Treasure Her; A Celebration of Our Legacy’s Elegance Grand Tea and Fundraiser this past Saturday, March 5th. Its 2016 theme: Treasuring the Selfless Sacrifice of the Caregiver. It was again held at the magnificent Grand Marquis Ballroom and featured prominent speakers and beautiful music.
Elegance filled the grand ballroom as ladies arrived in their suits and fine hats, big and small, with fine gloves and pearls. As the tables began to fill up, what I noticed right away is that more men attended than I noticed before. Knowing that most men don’t think a “tea” is for them, it was awesome to see. Guests were greeted with a beautiful setting, complete with tables dressed in lime green and white linens, with tall natural centerpieces and votive candles. The grandness of the ballroom added to the atmosphere with the 13-step staircase emptying out onto the stage and the head table placed just in front.
The ceremony was opened by its gracious host, Toni Mozingo, who introduced all of the 2016 Caregiver Honorees as each was escorted to their seats: Alishia Clark, Melvin Turner, Eric Lynch, Tammy Martin; she also introduced the 2016 Legacy of Elegance Award Honorees: Dr. Tammie Moore (Western Wake Psychology, LLC), Valerie Frazier (Kingdom Family International Church), Jeanne Frazer (Vitalink), Dr. Francene Hash (Pathways for Life, Inc.), Becky Bumgardner (The V Foundation for Cancer Research), and Phyllis Coley (Spectacular Magazine).
After we got acquainted with the honorees and we were reminded of why we were there, the host presented to us the co-founders of The SISI, Terry and Stacey Spicer, Sr., escorted in by their son. Terry wore a black full-length gown with a lace bodice tied at the waist accessorized with black gloves, super glamorous sparkling jewelry, and crowned by a high top peek-a-boo hat with ribbon and jewel accents. What an entrance as she carefully alighted the stairs to the stage to welcome everyone. “Oh, God is so good,” she greeted everyone. “We are honored to be here with you this morning to honor those who give care to their loved ones battling this disease. We cannot celebrate and honor enough the tireless work of our caregivers.”
After prayer by Pastor Pamela Lane Johnson, a special tribute was given to Robert “Superman” Stephen Gilmore, who recently succumbed to cancer, and who is the inspiration for The SISI Robert Stephen Gilmore Childhood Cancer Initiative, chaired by Wendy Baskins. Young Gilmore was truly a fighter, and as his mother shared, he also had such a giving spirit. People who would hear the story of his courageous battle would send him money to assist with medical expenses, and when she would ask him what he is going to do with the money he would answer “I’m going to buy gas cards” to give to The SISI to help other cancer patients get to their appointments. What an angel.
Following a musical selection and financial appeal, Mrs. Spicer gave an update on the latest happenings for The SISI. The organization has helped over 800 cancer patients across 90 out of all 100 counties of North Carolina and 7 other states with transportation expenses through providing gas cards and other assistance. The SISI’s Small Pearls Apprentice Program has grown to over 40 girls. Its first graduate, Danielle Johnson, was in attendance at the tea, and everyone was thrilled to know she loves school. “I just love it,” she said. “Everyone says college is supposed to be the best time of your life, and it really is.” As the first graduate, she received a $1,000.00 scholarship, which she used to purchase a laptop for school. The Small Pearls then graced us in song, followed by a simultaneous reciting of the Small Pearls Creed. Here’s an excerpt:
I will always respect others and myself.
I will boldly dare to be great without apology.
I am who God says I am.
I will always honor my family.
I will hold the hearts of my sister Small Pearls and our teachers with graceful elegance.
Arianna Wright, one of the Small Pearls, performed a special dance to the song “Alabaster Box” by Cece Winans which was just beautiful. After the dance, the honorees were officially recognized, each given the chance to tell their story of how cancer has affected their lives and their loved ones. Story after story came, reminding everyone how important it is to remember the caregivers. Melvin Turner, who lost his first wife to the disease after a courageous battle, said it best. “People have to remember to support the caregivers because caregivers need care too,” he said. Dr. Tammie Moore, owner of Western Wake Psychology, spoke about how cancer really takes a toll on families. She reminded us that “cancer is not only a physical disease; it attacks your mind and spirit too.”
The keynote address was given by Stephanie Glance, Executive Director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. She spoke about fond memories of Kay Yow and her battle with the disease, and also how she just didn’t quit. Glance said there are many words she could find to talk about Yow, but said the book “She” by Kobi Yamada would best describe her. One of the lines says, “She loved life and it loved her right back. Celebrate her passion.” Glance said that Kay was an inspiration to her and many others, saying “she went out on a limb, and when it broke off behind her, she learned she could fly,” another line from the book.
The Spicers and all of the honorees drove home the message of how important this work is that The SISI does. Providing gas cards to help cancer patients get to their doctor’s appointments, chemo and radiation treatments and other lifesaving appointments is a huge undertaking. Some patients would not be able to make it without these donations from The SISI. But what this organization means to patients and their families goes even beyond the gas cards. They become an extension of their family. Patients, survivors and caregivers alike speak about The SISI with fondness, emotionally calling them family, often saying that they are a lifesaver. Terry and Stacey Spicer very humbly accept this praise with honor. But they also know there is still more work to be done.
“We thank all of you for your generous donations. It is because of you that we have been able to help so many patients get to their appointments and receive care. We ask that you continue to support The SISI and our caregivers, because, without your help, we cannot provide this lifesaving gift of gas cards,” Mrs. Spicer said. “We so humbly thank you for all that you have done and for helping us to continue to do this work.”
To learn more about The SISI and how you can help in this initiative, please go to their website, www.thesisi.org. There you can also find information on The SISI Small Pearls Apprentice Program and the Robert Stephen Gilmore Childhood Cancer Initiative on this website. You can also follow The SISI on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/The-SISI-195857153893098/?fref=ts.