NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the American Cancer Society proudly announced today that two inspiring cancer survivors and nationally renowned singers will join voices at the 32nd Annual DreamBall on Wednesday, September 28 in New York City. Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway star Valisia LeKae, and teen sensation and America's Got Talent semi-finalist Calysta Bevier have been named 2016 Look Good Feel Better DreamGirls. Valisia and Calysta inspire hope among millions through their music and their stories of strength, grace and survival in the face of cancer diagnosis and treatment. The two women will share their stories on stage, and perform together at the event.
The annual DreamBall gala benefits the Look Good Feel Better program, the only free, nationwide program dedicated to helping cancer patients address the appearance-related side effects of treatment to improve their self-esteem and confidence. This year the event will honor two outstanding beauty industry leaders: Marc Rey, President and CEO of Shiseido Americas, and Daniel M. Annese, Global Brand President, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. Tamron Hall, co-host of the third hour of NBC News' "TODAY" and anchor of "MSNBC Live with Tamron Hall," will serve as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
"We could not be more proud and excited to bring together two strong women whose voices and artistry have touched millions of people around the world," said Louanne Roark, Executive Director of the Personal Care Products Foundation and Look Good Feel Better. "Calysta and Valisia's stories are at once their own, but remarkably similar. They are both very powerful symbols of survival and strength. Bringing their stories to our audience, and their voices together will be a powerful moment and a special experience for everyone participating in the DreamBall."
In 2013, Valisia LeKae was living a dream that millions share but few achieve: breaking through to Broadway stardom in her spectacular turn as Diana Ross in the smash hit Motown The Musical. Nominated for a Tony Award and a Grammy Award, Valisia was at the height of her career when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Having performed eight shows a week with nearly 60 songs, rigorous dance routines and dozens of costume changes, Valisia had considered herself the picture of health. Still, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy changed her physically and challenged her emotionally and spiritually.
"I knew this was going to be a journey, and that it wasn't going to be easy. There were times when I didn't think I had the physical or emotional strength to go on," says Valisia. "What I've come to learn is that while cancer changed my outward appearance, I have emerged stronger, more beautiful, more resilient, definitely wiser and more vulnerable – because I've allowed myself to be. That is where I finally found my greatest strength.
"Now I want to bring my story to as many people as I can, especially to young women who are about to go through a journey of their own. I had no idea how profoundly I would be challenged and tested and changed by this experience. I pray that anyone who hears my story can find inspiration and hope," she continues.
Last year, Calysta Bevier could not have been a more typical teenager. With two younger brothers and a little sister, 15-year-old Calysta was enjoying high school in Ohio, and actively participating in sports, cheerleading and music. On a family trip to Orlando, Calysta's mom, Missy, noticed a lump in her abdomen. Vacation cut short, the family drove back home to Ohio where a physician first incorrectly diagnosed Calysta as pregnant (she wasn't) before an ultrasound revealed a large tumor on her ovary. Surgeons re-moved a large mass that revealed that Calysta had stage 3 ovarian cancer. Twenty-one rounds of chemotherapy followed after which, Calysta was declared cancer-free.
But that was just the start of Calysta's story. Singing at a benefit dinner for a friend she made while in cancer treatment, a video of Calysta's performance of the hit "Fight Song" went viral on Facebook. Soon after came a call and an appearance on Ellen. This summer, Calysta's story has taken the country by storm as she took the stage on America's Got Talent. Her inspired performance of "Fight Song" earned the "Golden Buzzer" from judge Simon Cowell, vaulting Calysta into the live semi-finals of the competition.
Music was always a part of Calysta's life but through her treatment and recovery, it took on an even greater role.
"Music can help build you up, whatever you are going through. Even sad music can make you feel better. There is music in everything," she says. "Even when I was diagnosed with cancer, I always knew I was going to be OK. Today I am." Through her stardom and platform on America's Got Talent, Calysta is raising awareness for childhood cancer and her own Caly Cares Foundation, which creates care packages for kids going through cancer treatment and is designing a sweatshirt with removable patches to allow access to treatment ports and IV lines.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States in 2016, and 14,240 women will die of this disease. A woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75.
"At the American Cancer Society, we regularly hear from patients that the aesthetic side effects that accompany treatment for ovarian cancer, or any cancer, can be emotionally debilitating," says Kris Kim, Executive Vice President and Eastern Division Operating Officer for the American Cancer Society. "The Look Good Feel Better Program helps alleviate this anxiety, so women can refocus their attention on healing. Calysta and Valisia intimately understand this value and empathize with the stresses beyond core health concerns that accompany a cancer diagnosis. We are honored to have them represent this program as our 2016 DreamGirls."
For 27 years, Look Good Feel Better has been offered through a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the Professional Beauty Association. Proceeds from the DreamBall are split evenly between the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the American Cancer Society to support the program's services and local delivery. Since its inception, Look Good Feel Better has helped nearly one million women in the U.S. to address the appearance-related side effects that often accompany cancer treatment. DreamBall brings to life the stories of the women battling cancer and struggling with the psycho-social impact of dramatic appearance changes caused by cancer and its treatment. Through free workshops and online and virtual education and support, the program helps women to find hope, confidence and a community of other women who understand the challenges they are facing. This can have a profound impact, and may be the first step on their path to feeling more like themselves again, and getting better.
About Look Good Feel Better
The Look Good Feel Better program is a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry; the American Cancer Society, the nation's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to saving lives from cancer; and the Professional Beauty Association, the largest organization of salon professionals with members representing salons/spas, distributors, manufacturers and beauty professionals. For more information about Look Good Feel Better free workshops and other services available across the country, visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org. Look Good Feel Better is a registered trademark of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation.
The Personal Care Products Council Foundation is a charitable organization established in 1988 by the Personal Care Products Council to develop, fund and direct the Look Good Feel Better program. In addition to the U.S. Look Good Feel Better program, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation oversees a global network of 25 licensed affiliates that deliver Look Good Feel Better support programs in countries across the globe. Collectively the 26-country network has served more than 1.7 million people living with cancer on six continents since the program began in 1989.
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2 million volunteers saving lives in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 23 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. We're finding cures as the nation's largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
SOURCE Look Good Feel Better