By Charmere N. Gatson
More than 300 people gathered on Saturday at New World Landing for Pensacola’s Third Annual Colors of Cancer Luncheon, a colorful celebration of cancer awareness; cancer survivorship; hope for those presently living with the disease; and progress toward innovative cancer treatments.
As guests entered the ballroom, hostesses greeted them and directed them to their designated color-themed table. The room became a huge sea of community members dressed in beautiful colors and sitting at an array of vibrantly decorated tables.
The youngest child of the Rev. L.D. Wesley Sr., and the late Osie Mae Wesley, Deborah Wesley Bell welcomed guests to the luncheon then discussed the reason for hosting such an occasion. She brought back memories of her mother, who succumbed to cancer nearly 30 years ago at a young age, and she explained how her father consulted with several preachers in the area about doing musicals to raise awareness in the African American community about cancer and to raise funds for the cause of cancer. Gospel programs continued for many years once the Rev. L.D. Wesley Sr., launched the effort.
It is in the spirit of her mother, Bell said, and in the continuation of her father’s legacy to raise funds for cancer research that the luncheon continues each year. “Daddy is currently fighting his own illness, but his labor of love for this cause is not in vain,” she said. “We continue to carry the baton.”
Despite his illness, the Rev. L.D. Wesley Sr., who pastored Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church for more than 52 years, did have an opportunity to make it to the luncheon and witness the wonderful crowd and cheerful spirits.
Like the awareness and support ribbons that people often display based on color/color combination, the colors that adorned the guests’ tables and clothing represented symbols of support and awareness for one or more particular types of cancer. For instance, LaTonya Wesley hosted an orange-colored table along with her husband, the Rev. Lonnie D. Wesley III, pastor of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church, and eight other guests. The color orange represents leukemia and kidney cancer.
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