January 04, 2012 - Traditionally, this is the time of year when people start putting up their brand new calendars featuring everything from cute puppies and adorable kittens to sleek sports cars and exotic bikini-clad models.
Flanked by some of his lovely models is Oxford photographer Henry Hopkins (center), who shot and created a calendar to raise money for Pink Ribbon Trailblazers. All of the models are breast cancer survivors. They are (from left) Sister Suzanne Skowronski, Wendy Wroby, Joyce Falls, Pat Nolf, Linda Broderdorf and Alexis Kus. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
But there's a new calendar on the market depicting a group of lovely local ladies who represent hope, survival, courage and inspiration.
Pink Ribbon Trailblazers, a Lake Orion-based nonprofit group that raises funds so uninsured women can receive mammograms, is selling a new calendar featuring professional photos of 12 breast cancer survivors.
"I'm Miss January – that's what I tell people," said Pat Nolf, a Lake Orion resident and the founder of Pink Ribbon Trailblazers.
Nolf is featured along with Lynn McCabe, of Rochester; Alexis Kus, of Oxford; Icelene Johnson, of Pontiac; Debbie Bruerkman, of Ortonville; Jennifer Heverly, of Waterford; Joyce Falls, of Lake Orion; Sister Suzanne Skowronski, of Rochester; Linda Broderdorf, of Oxford; Maureen Parrish, of White Lake; Deb Kiefer, of Lake Orion; and Wendy Wroby, of Lake Orion.
These ladies are listed in the order they appear in the calendar.
"What we wanted to portray is that these women are moving on in their lives," said Nolf, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and underwent a lumpectomy, mastectomy and staph infections on her path of survival. "Two are still going through (treatments). One of them just finished her chemo and the other, I believe, is almost done."
The calendar was created by photographer Henry Hopkins, a Metamora Township resident who has a studio in downtown Oxford located on the second floor above architects Wilson & Associates (23 N. Washington St.).
"It was actually Henry's idea," Nolf said.
"I'm almost 50 years old and I never knew anybody (close to me) who had breast cancer," Hopkins said. "After meeting (Nolf) – she's a pistol – I figured I'd try to bring more awareness to it and help her group out . . . You hear about the Susan G. Komen (for the Cure) organization, but you don't hear a lot about the little local stuff."
Not only did Hopkins shoot all of the photos, he designed the calendar and covered all the costs for the labor, materials and printing.
"He absorbed all the expense of the calendar," Nolf said.
"I think it's always good to give back whenever and however you can," Hopkins said.
As a result of Hopkins' generosity, every penny of the $20 calendar price goes to the Pink Ribbon Trailblazers to provide mammograms for women who really need them, but cannot afford them.
Every five calendars sold equals one free mammogram for an uninsured woman in Oakland County.
So far, 171 calendars have been sold.
Hopkins, a fine art/portrait photographer who's been viewing life through a lens for nearly 30 years, said the message of this calendar is "there's life after" breast cancer, so "don't give up."
"I basically wanted each woman to portray who she was," he said. "All these women were very inspirational in their own ways. The energy they exuded was amazing. They literally lived for the day. All of them had fantastic outlooks on life in general. It was quite inspirational for me and very uplifting."
"Two of the women were actually still going through chemo and one of them was kind of ill, but she still made it to the studio and she was probably one of my funnest (shoots)," Hopkins noted. "I thought some of these women might be shy, but they were really willing to do this for the cause."
Looking over the 2012 calendar, Hopkins said he's "pleased with the result" and can't wait to shoot one for 2013.
The Pink Ribbon Trailblazers calendar is available at Ella Fashion (24 S. Washington St.), Villa de Goochi Salon and Spa (40 N. Washington St.), Downtown Salon and Spa (40 S. Washington St.), and through Oxford Village Manager Joe Young, who can be reached at (248) 628-2543.
Calendars can also be ordered on-line by visiting www.pinkribbontrailblazers.com or at www.henryhopkinsphotography.com.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.