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Raising Dough: Holiday Bake Sale Supports Breast Cancer Research

12/17/18

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At 83, Mary Lou Leuters is a petite, white-haired spitfire who believes that research is the answer to finding a cure for breast cancer—and raising money to fund that research is her duty.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Leuters heads up the Ladies of Port Richmond, a small, grass-roots group that has raised more than $500,000 over the past 13 years with organized walks, designer bag bingo nights, bus trips, church breakfasts, and other events.

The Ladies held their last fundraiser of the year on December 6 at Jefferson’s Gibbon Building—a holiday bake sale featuring an array of icing-swirled cupcakes, boxes full of cookies that evoke memories of grandmom’s kitchen, trays of decadent brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and more. Members of the group, including Jackie Olinger and Dolores Harter, began baking earlier in the week to prepare for the sale.

“I hope we sell out,” Leuters says, as she places bags of caramel-covered Ritz cracker treats on the table. “The money goes to an important cause.” Proceeds from the bake sale, earmarked for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, will be directed toward breast cancer research.

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Leuters founded the Ladies of Port Richmond in 2005, when she reached out to friends and neighbors to see if they were interested in participating in some philanthropy.

The first event—The Ladies of Port Richmond Breast Cancer Walk—was a great success, attracting about 700 participants. Soon, other events followed, and local businesses added their support. Over the years, the annual walk has grown, and events have multiplied—but the group has dwindled.

“We’re getting older now,” says Leuters, noting that the Ladies of Port Richmond are looking to pass the baton onto a younger generation.

“We are a good organization, we do good work, but we need young people to get involved,” she says. “We need young people who want to work to find a cure in our lifetime.”

Until then, the Ladies of Port Richmond will carry on just as they have for more than a decade. Their dedication and hard work has earned them the gratitude of researchers, and a plaque in their honor on the first floor of the Bluemle Life Science Building.

For more information about the Ladies of Port Richmond, to learn about their upcoming events, or to join their organization, visit their website.

View more photos from the bake sale »