By Libby Hopkins
Anne Frank once said, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” Peggie Sherry, of Bodies of Courage, focuses on the beauty as well because she is a breast cancer survivor. Bodies of Courage is part of Sherry’s foundation, Faces of Courage, which is a nonprofit organization located in the Tampa Bay area that offers free camps and events for women and children with cancer and blood illnesses. Last year the organization put out a calendar of body painted survivors and it was a huge success.
So, Sherry decided to produce a book of painted survivors. The idea of the book is to share the very real and intimate stories of cancer survivors. “If you take a look at the individual fighting the disease, you see that cancer is so much more than that,” Sherry said, “It’s a disease that robs the person of their piece of mind, security, jobs, independence and their ability to blend in while out in public.” The survivors who have been painted and photographed told Sherry that they felt beautiful again.
Various businesses and body artists in the Brandon community came together on September 22-23 to help Sherry create her new book. They held two artist work days in Valrico. Ziad Kazbour of Kazbor’s Grille in Riverview donated a workspace for the artist and models. Kazbour lost his father to- cancer and wanted to be a part of such a great project. “It’s a great cause and we want to be a part of anything that supports cancer survivors as well as helps in the fight against cancer,” Kazbour said. Bubbaques in Brandon donated food to everyone who participated in the artist work days. Lorrin Wagner of Wagner Events in Valrico was one of the body artists and she was thrilled to be a part of the project.
“It is a powerful concept which I am proud to be participating in,” Wagner said. “These women has been through so much, and it makes everything seem less important.”
Ryan Odiorne of Odiorne Insurance in Brandon wanted to be a part of this event because he lost his mother, Pat, to cancer more than 12 years ago. Pat was the founder of Center Place in Brandon and Ryan was raised around the arts.
“Since the passing of my mother, the Odiorne family has done everything possible to help with the fight against cancer because we know the struggles and the pain this dreaded disease causes individuals and their families,” Odiorne said.
The Valrico Rotary and A&A Mobile RV Services of Plant City donated supplies as well for the project.
Sherry was touched by all the community support for her book project and foundation. “We have been blessed with the most generous volunteers,” Sherry said. Sherry’s book will be released in May of 2013.
For more information on Bodies of Courage or the Faces of Courage Foundation, visit www.facesofcourage.org.