CHAPEL HILL, NC - Eighteen months after standout forward Jessica Breland was diagnosed with cancer, friends and supporters will gather at the Carolina Club in Chapel Hill for a very special evening kicking off a fundraising effort in her honor – for a cause very close to her heart.
UNC Women's Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell will host the gala "Rebounds and Rhinestones" dinner to benefit the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund to support cancer research and treatment at UNC's pediatric oncology program.
The evening's guest of honor and keynote speaker will be ABC Good Morning America Anchor Robin Roberts. Roberts, a cancer survivor, anchors an Emmy-award winning program and has interviewed leading newsmakers including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, actor Sidney Poitier and former First Lady Laura Bush.
The public can purchase tickets to the "Rebounds and Rhinestones" gala, which will kick off a season-long effort that will allow fans to honor Breland's comeback by making a donation to the fund named in her honor. Student and community groups can also host events and organize fundraisers to benefit pediatric cancer research and treatment at UNC.
Breland, a 6-foot-3 forward from Kelford, NC, was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in May, 2009 and treated at the N.C. Cancer Hospital, clinical home of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. While undergoing treatment, she red-shirted the season, but was present on the sidelines, supporting her teammates.
Coach Sylvia Hatchell says that Breland has become a stronger leader since her diagnosis and has been working very hard to come back strong this season. "That's why it's really appropriate to honor her desire to give back to kids with cancer by naming this effort the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund. It sends a message of strength and hope and honors how hard she's worked at her comeback – and, truly, every kid with cancer deserves that same shot at a comeback," she noted.
The gala will be held November 6, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the Carolina Club, George Watts Hill Alumni Center. In addition to special guest Robin Roberts, the evening will feature entertainment by fiddling storyteller and Chapel Hillian Mike Cross.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Video package available.