Felton’s Wine and the Country toasts cancer ‘warriors’

Wine and the Country, at the vineyards of Pizzadili Winery, will benefit the American Cancer Society on Friday, Sept. 9, from 7 to 11 p.m. Guests must be at least 21. Tickets are $30. Above is the Wendy’s Warriors team with Wendy Pizzadili in the bottom row, second from left. (Submitted photo)

Wine and the Country, at the vineyards of Pizzadili Winery, will benefit the American Cancer Society on Friday, Sept. 9, from 7 to 11 p.m. Guests must be at least 21. Tickets are $30. Above is the Wendy’s Warriors team with Wendy Pizzadili in the bottom row, second from left. (Submitted photo)

FELTON –– The annual American Cancer Society fundraiser Wine and the Country is just around the corner and organizers hope this year will be better than ever.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” said event founder Wendy Pizzadili. “We get everyone together for a night that’s a ton of fun and raise money to help people who are affected by cancer.”

Ms. Pizzadili has been touched by the disease –– having been diagnosed with cervical cancer a decade ago. The outlook was grim and a rigorous treatment plan was expected to extend her life for nine months but 10 years later, she’s still around.

“We got a Relay for Life team together and called ourselves ‘Wendy’s Warriors.’ We did our first walk in June 2007 and the effort has just grown from there,” she said.

Since her type of cancer only affects women, the annual fundraiser started out as a female-only event but once the participants’ husbands and significant others heard about all the fun, they wanted to be included.

“We had all these guys who wanted to come to our party and get in on the fun we were having,” Ms. Pizzadili said. “So now, everyone’s invited. You can come alone, with a friend, with your spouse or as a group. We just want everyone to have a good time.”

The Sept. 9 fundraiser at the Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery starts at 7 p.m. and will have drinks, appetizers, live music from Mike Hines and The Look, a silent auction and photo booth.

“Everyone’s always so busy so it’s difficult to do multiple things and have a lot of people show up for each. So we brainstormed and decided on going all out for one night and that’s what we’ve done ever since,” Ms. Pizzadili said.

Last year, Wendy’s Warriors was able to raise $21,000, and donate all to the American Cancer Society.

“It might not seem like a lot of money to some people, but we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Ms. Pizzadili said. “Our group has more than 20 members, all of whom have unfortunately been touched by cancer one way or another. Through our team’s fundraisers, we are able to bring help to families just like ours who have faced similar struggles.”

All the team’s members have been there for one another from the beginning and continue to support each. Ms. Pizzadili is in and out of the hospital due to internal damage caused by the life-saving chemotherapy and radiation.

“I may be suffering every day, but when I look at everything I’ve seen since my treatment, like my sister’s wedding, it makes me realize that I am lucky, even if day to day life is difficult,” Ms. Pizzadili said.

“If I’m in the hospital, my teammates will come visit me and support me any way they can and they know I’d do the same whenever I can.”

Although Ms. Pizzadili’s battle with cancer spawned Wine and the Country, she’s never intended it to be something just about her and her fight.

“I don’t like to just share my story and use it as a way to raise money,” she said. “There are so many people out there struggling day after day whether it’s they have cancer or a loved one does. It’s not about my story, it’s about how cancer affects so many people.”

The over-21 event is from 7 to 11 p.m. at Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery, 1683 Peach Basket Road in Felton.

Tickets for Wine and the Country are $30 per person and includes one drink. Tickets should be purchased in advance at Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery, or Pizzadili’s Deli at 2089 S. DuPont Highway in Dover.

Donations can be sent to “Wendy Pizzadili/Wendy’s Warriors” at P.O. Box 135, Felton, DE 19943.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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