Carlene Sperry of Auburn, Maine, is the grand-prize winner of the "Gems Among Us" essay contest, organized by the Jewelry Information Center, which asked individuals to write an essay describing the person they believe makes the world a better place.
Carlene (pictured) is a seven-year breast cancer survivor and advocate. Her husband, Mitchell, in his nominating essay, wrote about how the disease transformed Carlene’s life and gave her the strength to help others in similar situations.
Mitchell was referred to the "Gem Among Us" contest by Republic Jewelry and Collectibles of Auburn. The Sperrys and Dan Cunliffe II, owner of the jewelry store, won grand prizes.
Nearly 700 essays honoring loved ones that battled illness were submitted to the contest by people who were inspired by their selfless actions. Nearly 10,000 votes were cast for the 10 finalists.
As the grand-prize "Gem Among Us" winner, Sperry won a trip for two to the Aventura Spa Palace Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine. As the grand-prize essay writer, Mitchell won a $5,000 jewelry shopping spree at a participating retailer of his choice. He has elected to go to Republic Jewelry and Collectibles.
As the retailer who referred the grand-prize winners to the Contest, Dan Cunliffe II won a trip for two to Las Vegas during the 2011 jewelry trade shows.
You can read the essays of the10 finalists here.
The winning essay follows:
Tough, Durable, but still Elegant
My name is Mitch Sperry and I am nominating a shining gem, my wife Carlene Sperry. A breast cancer survivor for over seven years, Carlene’s life has been transformed by her experience with cancer. It didn’t take her long to grasp her diagnosis, embrace her treatment, and reorder the priorities of her life. As she marched through surgery, chemo, radiation, hormonal treatment and still more surgery, it was as if she took a pledge to some greater being, an oath to her fellow “survivors”…that no one should have to walk alone along their breast cancer journey. She made it her mission to give back, to share what she had gone through, to help make life easier for others faced with a similar cancer diagnosis.
Carlene, a cosmetologist by trade, is a Reach to Recovery and Look Good… Feel Better consultant with the American Cancer Society and now runs that program as a volunteer at the Central Maine Medical Center.
Annually, Carlene serves on a committee, working tirelessly on the Annual Buddy to Buddy Fashion Show sponsored by CMMC and local TV station, WCSH6. All proceeds from the show assist patients in paying for their mammograms.
Along with another breast cancer survivor, Carlene was the inspiration behind a support group, the PIPS (Pretty in Pink Breast Cancer Survivors), in which survivors can share, laugh, cry, and have fun.
Her initiative created a cookbook of recipes from family and friends. One hundred percent of all proceeds from the cookbook sales stayed right in our local community.
Along with our son, Tyler, a dancer for the Portland Ballet Company, Carlene helped inspire, with her personal story, the performance “Dance for the Cure”. All proceeds benefited the Maine Cancer Foundation‘s Women‘s Cancer Fund.
Putting her creative talents to work and with the help of Republic Jewelry and Collectibles, Carlene designed a pendant, The Heart of Hope, a symbol of breast cancer awareness, the sales of which directly benefit local men and women with breast cancer. More recently Carlene designed a second piece, Brenda’s Key, to supplement the Heart of Hope Collection. With these proceeds Carlene has started the Heart of Hope Charitable Fund.
Some of Carlene’s other involvement includes;
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, team captain for 5 years
A Breast Cancer Survivor Calendar
Donates gift bags intended to help pamper breast cancer patients
Carlene is a woman of valor -- like a phoenix rising from the ashes. What would bring most to their knees has raised her high and uplifted others also. Carlene doesn’t rest on her laurels, but finds even more ways to be a warrior against this enemy, called "breast cancer".
Not only is Carlene my beautiful and precious stone, she is also a brilliant, scintillating and multi-faceted gem to so many others.
Thank you for appreciating the “Gems Among Us” and thank you for considering my beautiful wife for this recognition.
A proud and grateful husband,
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