Photo credit: James Hayden
After a breast cancer diagnosis at age 31, Amee BellWanzo wanted to make a difference in the capital city. As a member of the band Black Eyed Betty, she put her talents to use and created Columbus Rocks the Cure, an organization that has used music events to support breast cancer awareness and research since 2008. This year, BellWanzo and her group are expanding, hosting a rock'n roll-inspired fashion show called Fashion Rocks the Cure. It's happening at Outlands Live at 8 p.m. March 31. Tickets are $10 at the door. We had a chance to chat with BellWanzo about Columbus Rocks the Cure and why it's necessary to be aware of cancer no matter your age.
How did Columbus Rocks the Cure get its start?
When I was 31, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My band mates and I had always been big supporters of Race for the Cure, and that year it was the most important to us. We had our own concert as a fundraiser. It was a celebration with music, karaoke and games.
What are the organization's goals?
We have two main missions: One is to spread the word that you can be diagnosed with cancer and keep on rocking. It's not a death sentence. People our age need to be aware of that. The other mission is to raise funds to support local survivors in need. We have donated to Komen Columbus, as well as purchased gas cards and wigs for survivors in need.
Explain the idea behind Fashion Rocks the Cure.
I thought it would be cool idea. I think that fashion and rock music go hand in hand and it's another unique way to reach people. We want to put on events that people want to go to. Rocking the catwalk is something I would like to see and a lot of other people would too. Fashion design is just another creative outlet. The event will be rock and roll focused. …It is passionate and powerful.
Why is it important to have a benefit like this here in Columbus?
A lot of people kind of think, "Oh breast cancer is for my grandma or mom." But people who are younger who have a more rock and roll lifestyle, they don't think about it. That was the first thing I said when I was diagnosed. I feel like it's important to reach out to a young audience and creative audience.
If you can't make it to Fashion Rocks the Cure, how else can you help?
You can go to our website: ColumbusRocksTheCure.org. We have links and things where people can donate.