Selby Dunham is a courageous and determined cancer survivor who turned her personal battle into a valley-wide fight by starting Bighorn BAM (Behind a Miracle), which, since 2007, has provided critical funding needed to help in the diagnosis, treatment, research, patient care, services and education for those affected by all types of cancer.
To date, Bighorn BAM has raised $9.1 million, much of which has been directed to the Lucy Curci Cancer Center at Eisenhower Health, as well as additional funds for other important cancer organizations. With these funds, the Lucy Curci Cancer Center has been able to purchase the best diagnostic breast cancer equipment available — transforming the Eisenhower Schnitzer/Novack Breast Center into a nationally recognized diagnostic and treatment facility.
More than 30 pieces of equipment have been purchased through gifts from BAM, and more than 100,000 patients each year have benefited from Dunham’s vision.
Dunham’s odyssey of hope began in 2005, when she received a diagnosis of stage III breast cancer. What followed was chemotherapy, a mastectomy and 33 rounds of radiation therapy. But through it all, Dunham knew she would come out the other side stronger. “The day I was diagnosed was the day I became a survivor,” she says.
For her tireless efforts and inspirational vision, Dunham is being named “Outstanding Nonprofit Founder” at the 14th annual “Change the World With a Giving Heart” National Philanthropy Day in the Desert Awards on Nov. 6. This highly anticipated awards presentation is hosted every year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals CA, Desert Communities Chapter.
Dunham attributes the success of Bighorn BAM to the donors, volunteers and countless sponsors for stepping up time and time again to help. Over time, other individuals, organizations, including other country clubs, have become involved in BAM’s fundraising efforts through many of their successful events, including Game Day for Life, A Miracle on El Paseo, A Night of Miracles and several golf tournaments throughout the Coachella Valley, all increasing funds raised to fight breast cancer.
Three years ago, BAM purchased two new patient transport vans, which provide transportation for patients to and from treatments. A year later, BAM purchased a third vehicle to keep up with the demand. The organization also raised $1 million to help fund a new state-of-the-art linear accelerator, the most sophisticated radiation equipment available, which helps not only breast cancer patients, but provides treatment for lung, liver, brain and spinal cancers.
BAM funding also supports genetic counseling, social services and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center.
In addition, Bighorn BAM has provided $1.5 million to the Pendleton Foundation, which assists cancer patients and families facing financial hardships. With that help, the foundation now supports 300 valley families in need of groceries, transportation, rent or utility services. By easing financial burdens, it alters outcomes, saves lives and builds a brighter future for cancer patients.
“Our Bighorn members are always so eager to help,” Dunham says. “It is really amazing how generous everyone is. After the first year, we saw we had something special, and it just keeps on growing.”
The 14th annual “Change the World With a Giving Heart” National Philanthropy Day in the Desert Awards will take place virtually on Nov. 6.
Madeline Zuckerman is owner and president of Madeline Zuckerman Marketing & Public Relations Inc., a Marketing Communications firm located in Rancho Mirage and Newport Beach, California. She has been a guest reporter for The Desert Sun for 12 years. She is also a member of the Allegro Society of the Palm Springs Opera Guild and is a founder of McCallum Theatre.
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