Back To Newsroom

Miss USA Honors Those Battling Breast Cancer:


Sep 8th 2012

To support Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo’s effort, please click here

Think pink this October and help the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation save lives and raise awareness about breast cancer. This year marks the 7th Annual Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life, which has grown to the largest breast cancer awareness event in the Northeast and the final full WaterFire lighting of the season taking place Oct. 5 through the 7th.

In 2004 the Gemma family created the foundation in memory of Gloria Gemma, the wife and mother of nine died from the disease. Since then, the foundation has raised millions of dollars in research money that stays in Rhode Island.

Each year the weekend events attract thousands of people and celebrities and this year is no exception. Rhode Island’s very own Olivia Culpo and this year’s Miss USA will take part at the Illuminations of Life Ceremony.

"We're just thrilled that Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo will not only be joining us at the Illuminations of Life Ceremony on October 6th but also at the Gloria Gemma 5K on Oct. 7th," Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation Executive Director, Maria Gemma tells this Examiner.

"She's one of us, a true Rhode Islander," Gemma continued, "Olivia Culpo is certainly putting her celebrity to good use, raising awareness and supporting research, and she's the perfect person to help us promote the theme of this year's Flames of Hope Weekend: 'Breast cancer is not just your grandmother's disease.'"

During her reign, Culpo plans to raise awareness and encourage research related to both ovarian cancer and breast cancer, the third leading cause of death from cancer in Rhode Island.

The Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life begins with a kickoff event and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 5 at 6:00 p.m. at the downtown Providence Marriott, located at 1 Orms Street. Free and open to the public, this event includes the 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar unveiling. Sponsored by Gem Plumbing, South County Hospital, and RI Rehabilitation Center, the 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar features twelve Rhode Island women, each of whom received a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 40.

Saturday, Oct. 6 at 12:00 pm is the opening of Celebration Village. Located in Station Park, across Francis Street from Providence Place Mall, Celebration Village consists of several tents, each with a different focus.

The Education & Wellness Pavilion is an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to meet and learn from representatives of area hospitals and health care providers. The Interactive Health Zone will feature free health screenings and innovative health and wellness products. The Garden of Hope will focus on the Foundation’s new horticultural therapy program, a collaboration with Craig Marciniak of Cumberland-based Tranquil Water Gardens. The Mastery Amphitheater will include the popular “Breaking Boards for Breast Cancer,” demonstrations, and instruction from Smithfield-based Mastery Martial Arts.

The Healing Arts Pavilion is a chance for visitors to contribute to the Foundation’s Starfish Project, a massive ongoing participatory public art installation. The Kitchen Stadium also opens at noon and will include healthy cooking demonstrations by local vendors, two appearances by Michelle Ragussis of “Food Network Star” fame—one at 1:00 pm and another at 4:00 pm—and the official launch of a Foundation-published and survivor-penned cookbook, A Gem of a Cookbook.

“Celebration Village is really a way for us to feature all of the different kinds of programming we offer throughout the state all year long, but in one day and in one place,” says Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation Director of Signature Events & Operations, Bryan Sawyer.

At dusk, Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo will join breast cancer survivors and their loved ones at theIlluminations of Life Ceremony. The State House, will be adorned with pink lighting as participants carry torches to the Providence River basin in memory of those who have lost their battles to breast cancer, and to light the way for those who have yet to begin their journeys. Sponsored by National Grid, the electrifying Illuminations of Life Ceremony concludes with one of the biggest and brightest WaterFire lightings of the year. This year, the Illuminations of Life Ceremony will feature special performances by vocalist John Pagano, a Rhode Island native who has been performing with Burt Bacharach for over ten years.

The ARS Pink Party begins at 7:00 pm Admission is $25 and includes light fare, live music, and dancing. Proceeds benefit the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.

The Saturday night main stage headliner this year is Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez. The blond beehive-sporting voice of the Saturday Night Live Band for over two decades will take the stage with her band at 8:00 pm The main stage performance is free and open to the public.

On Sunday, October 7 at 11:15 am, Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo will compete alongside teammates from Bay View Academy, where she attended high school, in the Gloria Gemma 5K, the Foundation’s biggest fundraising event of the year. The Gloria Gemma Kids 1K, new this year and sponsored by Macy’s, begins an hour earlier at 10:15 am

For information on how to run or walk in the Gloria Gemma 5K or Kids 1K, or contribute to the ongoing fundraising efforts of family members, friends, or coworkers, please To participate in or support the Illuminations of Life Ceremony, please To volunteer, please visit To become an event sponsor or vendor, please email To purchase tickets, to the ARS Pink Party you can call 401-861-HERO (4376).