Dining by Design

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Dining by Design is an amazing display of creativity and heart, as table designers come together to build a museum-style arrangement of art-worthy tablescapes. The men and women behind Dining by Design are using their platform of style to raise awareness and funds as they spread a message of hope and health.  When they gather around each unique table, surrounded by family and friends, they are serving more than a meal; they are dishing up love and support through one of life’s greatest trials.  The funds raised through the event support the efforts of the American Cancer Society, which strives for health and wellness while seeking a cure once and for all. This year, three women offer their unique perspectives on the fight against cancer here in the Rio Grande Valley.

Joy Burns, a former Reach to Recovery program coordinator for The American Cancer Society of the lower Valley, has seen firsthand the good that is done through Dining by Design.  Volunteers in this program call and visit  newly diagnosed cancer patients, sharing literature and experiences.  Talking to an overcomer – a healthy survivor – gives them added support and encouragement in their own cancer battle. Herself a 26 year breast cancer survivor,  Burns sees this fun-filled event as an avenue that raises a lot of money that impacts local patients.  

“There are so many ways to help to do so much good – from donating money to decorating a table to attending the event,” Burns shares.

Aida Moreno feels Dining by Design is a well-oiled machine, which helps her in her position as Development Manager for Distinguished Events for the American Cancer Society of the Rio Grande Valley. This is her third year facilitating and providing support for fundraising events, like sponsorships, expenses, and logistics.  

“They are a wonderful, amazing group of hardworking ladies, and I feel grateful and blessed to have them on our side,” Moreno expresses about the Dine by Design team.  She concurs that the money raised is helping local patients in real ways. The American Cancer Society is helping to provide travel and lodging for cancer patients, as well as free wigs for chemotherapy patients, a questions hotline, and teaching programs and classes that provide practical application information. “It’s awesome to see the Harlingen community come out and support us,” she said.  

Sandra Grawunder describes herself as a woman on a mission. She is now living her cancer story and has a powerful message to share: urging other women to listen to their own “body voice,” push hard for answers, and get second opinions.  Because her symptoms weren’t classic and multiple avenues could not explain them, she felt what she was experiencing was downplayed or outright ignored, and things fell through the cracks. After she was finally diagnosed with stage 3 Endometrial Cancer, she underwent a very important surgery; as a result of this surgery, doctors at MD Anderson discovered a mutant, hereditary gene.  Now her family can be proactively screened for the gene to stay well informed. She says the most important thing she’s learned is to be your own advocate as a patient, to fight for yourself, and your sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and mothers.      

“If you are now in survivor mode like me, take heart, be strong, and let your faith and the love of those around you lift you up,” Grawunder imparts.  “Once you have been touched by the shadow of cancer, you join an inseparable community of survivors who will always be there for you, period.”          

Dining by Design will take place on Thursday, November 12th at its new larger location, Casa de Amistad, at 1204 Fair Park Boulevard in Harlingen.   The Daytime Preview will be held from 11 am to 3 pm, with $25 pre-sale tickets being sold at the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, as well as tickets being sold at the door on the day of the event.  The Evening Gala will begin at 6:30 pm, with dinner set to be served at 8 pm.  Limited advanced Evening Gala seating is available for $100 per person.  For all ticket, sponsorship, and donation information, contact Cynthia Gray at 956.357.3025 or cynabee@yahoo.com.  For more information about Dining by Design, visit www.DiningByDesignRGV.com.