It was a somber day in 1998 when Nancy Shepard’s best friend and nursing colleague, Ellen, informed Nancy that she had breast cancer. Being the extraordinary friend that she is, Nancy traveled through this life altering journey with her friend from the surgical room through her recovery from a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. As the anesthesiologist initiated the IV to Ellen, she slowly turned to Nancy and shed a small tear fearing the uncertainty of her future. It was then that Nancy made the commitment to help women with breast cancer.
Nancy originally thought she would create a fundraiser and give the proceeds to an existing breast cancer program but the survivors thought otherwise. As one survivor said, “so much money goes to finding a cure, and although we want one, we need help now... while we are in treatment!” Nancy listened to their challenges hearing how the fatigue from treatment disrupts families and compromises a woman’s daily life. Spouses suddenly take on unfamiliar tasks of preparing meals for the family, cleaning the house, doing laundry, getting the children to/from school and maintaining bedtime rituals while still trying to work and provide financially for the family. Single women struggle to maintain daily work responsibilities, while at the same time care for themselves during a physically and emotionally draining time. As a result of hearing these women’s stories, Nancy saw the need to bring back the “neighbor next door” support system of the 1950’s. In researching existing programs Nancy learned there were no organizations that provided individualized support to a patient actively going through treatment.
Nancy was inspired to start her own Foundation twelve years ago and launched the Indiana Women in Need (I.W.I.N.) Foundation dedicated to giving Indiana women the strength to endure breast cancer treatment by providing individualized services. To date, I.W.I.N. has provided over 1 million dollars in services to their recipients and have served close to 450 women in 2014. This is 100+ more women than I.W.I.N. served last year. The youngest recipient is 19 and the oldest 93 years young. Many women are of low socio-economic communities and often times I.W.I.N. Foundation is the only resource to provide assistance during their time of need.
In 2004, I.W.I.N.’s signature fundraising event, the overnight Pink Pajama Party was launched. The funds raised at this annual event provide the grant funding needed to support the individualized services for patients throughout the year.
The 11th annual Pink Pajama Party will be held February 20 & 21, 2015 at the Marriott Hotel located at Keystone at the Crossing. The evening features a night of pampering with local businesses donating spa and salon services to an estimated 325 attendees that include survivors, their family and friends. There is a delicious dinner with an expansive silent auction. The next morning includes an inspirational breakfast program in which a recipient will share her story and Nancy will share more about the future of I.W.I.N. For details on the Pink Pajama Party, including how to donate an auction item, sponsorship opportunities, make a tax deductible donation or to host a third party fundraising event, contact the I.W.I.N. Foundation at
317-475-0565 or www.iwinfoundation.org.