Holiday season

A local house lights up for a cause this holiday season | News

EXETER, RI — A puff of chocolate rolls through the car window past more than 260 puffy Christmas and cartoon characters, some towering 35ft tall.

Gingerbread smells seep into the car. Christmas music fills the air. Lights ring both sides of this 700ft driveway at 106 Ten Rod Road, just over the border between North Kingstown and Exeter, almost blinding if not for the multicolored ones that signal it’s prime time. Christmas.

“Our goal is to make people smile. That’s what it’s all about,” said Anthony Gemma, who along with his wife, Helen, hosts this out-of-mind, out-of-body ride experience at their home.

This is an illuminated Christmas extravaganza that runs until January 2 and features many well-known holiday figures like Santa Claus and his reindeer, snowmen, and thousands of different lights. It is a tribute to the late Gloria Gemma, a summer resident of Narragansett who died 18 years ago of breast cancer.

The ride is free, but in this second year of the Expo, visitors are again encouraged to make a voluntary donation of any amount. It benefits the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation which provides services to people with breast cancer, survivors and their families.

Last year, this holiday event, now a planned tradition, raised nearly $45,000 for foundation services, Gemma said.

Gloria Gemma was 70 when she died. It was way too soon and a lot of life still remained with her cherished family. Keeping her spirit alive — and feeling her around a vacation she loved — was the core of an idea for this exhibit, her son, Anthony, said.

“My mother loved seeing the children smile at Christmas. It was the magic and the spirit of Christmas that captured her,” he said. “She was all about family and that’s what it’s all about.”

He choked up for a moment, stopping, while imagining all her smiles over the years and knowing that “she would love to see all the kids go through this,” he added.

And through this display, they come. Last weekend alone, more than 1,100 vehicles arrived during runtime hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Small gift bags are given to cars with children as they watch a 20ft Santa surrounded by several 12ft reindeer.

Beyond children, he said, other people come including buses and vans from centers for the disabled and the elderly, seniors in groups and only single adults admiring the scenery.

The foundation

The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation was established in 2004 in memory of Gloria Gemma, a wife and mother of nine who lost her battle in 2002. She instilled in her children strong family values ​​and the importance of help others in need.

What started as a one-stop-shop website filled with resources and information has grown into an organization that offers over 20 holistic programs designed to heal mind, body, and spirit.

In 2008, the Foundation opened its Resource and Wellness Center, and Gloria’s eldest daughter, Maria Gemma-Corcelli, was named Executive Director.

The foundation offers workshops such as exercise, nutrition, and holistic programs to people through webinars, live streams, and Zoom meetings.

Additionally, Gloria’s Angels meal delivery service is part of the Gloria’s Angels program and provides nutrient-dense, ready-to-eat meals to cancer patients in active treatment and their families.

The Young Survivor Program specifically addresses the unique needs of women diagnosed before age 44. The Apps and Yaps service allows young women to meet every two months to receive support in a non-clinical setting.

The pink “Hope Bus” – a large mobile transportation vehicle – is part of its community outreach program to Rhode Islanders of all genders and ethnicities. There is a particular effort targeting neighborhoods and minority communities for an increased need for breast health education and wellness services.

Patients with metastatic cancer have unique physical and emotional issues related to their disease. The mini-retreat days offer these patients a safe place to share this very difficult journey with others in similar circumstances and to alleviate some of the emotional and spiritual burdens that come with metastasis.

The Touched by an Angel program allows cancer patients and their families to enjoy a prepared holiday meal without the financial burden and stress of preparing it. Holiday turkeys with all the fixings are delivered to cancer patients just before the holidays.

Breast Cancer Facts

About 1 in 8 American women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

In 2021, approximately 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

About 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2021. A man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1 in 833. In the United States, about 43,600 women are expected to die in 2021 from breast cancer.

Mortality rates have been stable among women under 50 since 2007, but have continued to decline among women over 50. The overall breast cancer death rate decreased by 1% per year from 2013 to 2018. These declines are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.

For women in the United States, death rates from breast cancer are higher than those from any other cancer except lung cancer.

In January 2021, there were over 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States. This includes women undergoing treatment and women who have completed treatment.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women. In 2021, it is estimated that around 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancer.

Gemma said looking at the statistics, awareness and treatment can help reduce death rates further. He said a subtle message from his display is to quietly contribute – in a moment of holiday celebration – to that understanding.

It’s all part of the show to celebrate her mother and promote happiness at this time of year.

“It’s an experience,” he said.

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