Soaring past cancer“Life is a gift. You make the best of it no matter what situation.” That is the inspiring optimism of Red Wing citizen LaVone Kay in regards to all things, especially her battle with breast cancer.
By: Mikayla Cota, The Republican Eagle
“Life is a gift. You make the best of it no matter what situation.” That is the inspiring optimism of Red Wing citizen LaVone Kay in regards to all things, especially her battle with breast cancer.
Since her diagnosis, Kay had to undergo multiple surgeries but she remains hopeful.
“Anyone can rise above their circumstances and persevere. I have so much support from my family and friends. They definitely help me stay positive,” Kay said.
Her self-empowering motto to rise above stems from her work with the Minnesota Wing Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron. CAF honors and commemorates the work of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African-Americans who served their country during World War II.
The company sought Kay out after the tragic accident in 2004 at the airshow “Wings of Freedom: Salute to Veterans,” where Donald E Hinz lost his life when his P-51 airplane crashed near Bay City.
“They needed to figure out how to move forward from the crash as an organization and I was recommended to them by another member as the person to get the job done,” she said.
The CAF approached Kay and explained what the organization does.
“As an Air Force veteran, I was appalled that I hadn’t heard of the Airmen until that point. That motivated me to help get the word out about them,” Kay said.
She worked with CAF, helped the group move forward and start a traveling exhibit called RISE ABOVE. Kay is the only paid employee.
All work came to a halt with the diagnosis in April. Kay was hit with all kinds of medical expenses that she didn’t see coming. That was where her longtime friend Cheryl Smith-Mohn came in.
“I brought the situation before Ladies Tea, a group of women that I am a part of, and I asked them if we could do something to help LaVone. That is when an idea for a benefit came to mind,” Smith-Mohn said.
She brought the idea to Kay, who coined the event Toast to the Ta-Tas. Smith-Mohn and the Ladies Tea took care of the rest.
“My heart swells at the generosity of these women and what they have done for LaVone,” Smith-Mohn said. “It’s overwhelming.”
The Toast to the Ta-Tas will run 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday June 24 at the Elks club in Downtown Red Wing. Members and guests welcome. Food, cash bar, silent auction, live auction, entertainment by Siouxsie West, who is a guitarist and folk singer, and a raffle will all be a part of that afternoon of festivities.
Smith-Mohn will also be collecting bras and donations to make a Toast to the Ta-Tas banner to hang in the Elks Club during the event. Bras can be dropped off at Bella Casa Interiors, 419 Main St.
“Every day gets a little bit better,” Kay said. “The support I am getting from friends, from family, from the Ladies Tea, is all heartwarming.”