My name is Tracy Callahan and I am the Founder and CEO of the Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation established in 2015. I was first diagnosed with early stage melanoma at the age of 38, and by age 40, I had been diagnosed two more times. I am the Mom of two amazing boys ages 8 and 11 and they nicknamed me the “Polka Dot Mama” because of my many moles. I consider myself fortunate that my melanomas were caught early. I know that this is not the case for many.
After my third diagnosis I decided to start blogging. I knew that I wanted to use my voice to raise awareness for this often unspoken about cancer. Soon after starting my blog I began planning a Gala. I knew that I wanted it to not only benefit melanoma research, but I also wanted to stay committed to keeping it locally sourced. In addition to being a melanoma advocate, I am also a foodie! On May 1, 2016, we hosted our first annual “Taste For a Cure: Chef’s Gala Benefiting Melanoma Research.” This unique farm-to-table gala allowed us to raise $40,000 that was donated to the Melanoma Research Alliance, our charitable ally. We have been overwhelmed with the support of our local community.
In addition to raising money for research through our community efforts we have also raised over $30,000 this year for education and awareness efforts. We have been able to raise awareness both through social media and at a local level. We attend sporting events, run clubs and local events handing out free sunscreen and promoting sun healthy habits and early detection of melanoma. We also provide education to school age children all the way up to adults. Our vision is to reduce the incidence of melanoma by raising awareness, encourage prevention and improving early detection, rapid diagnosis and effective treatment of melanoma.
This fall we have several events planned including a Chili Cook Off to fund the installation of sunscreen dispensers at nine local firehouses, a virtual 5K Polka Dot Run that anyone in the world can participate in and a Martinis for Melanoma. We are also in full swing organizing our second annual Taste for a Cure that is already half sold out!
We are honored to be collaborating with the Melanoma Action Coalition and hope that together we can have a larger impact.