Source, The Times Herald, Gary Puleo
Patti Gahagan loves to occasionally meet friends for lunch at King of Prussia Mall, but by her own admission, she doesn’t do a lot of shopping when she’s there.
That all changed on Saturday when the Willow Grove resident, as the mall’s guest of honor, got to engage in some serious shopping on the mall’s dime.
Thanks to King of Prussia Mall’s partnership with the Philadelphia chapter of Susan G. Komen Foundation, the breast cancer survivor was treated to a Be More Than Pink shopping spree with a $250 gift card in celebration of her “strength, goodwill and contributions to the community.”
Gahagan was just 31 years old when she found a lump in her breast and embarked on her brave journey through chemotherapy, radiation, a mastectomy and, ultimately, reconstructive surgery.
Through all of that, she found the time to start a support group, Young Breast Friends, meeting with and mentoring other young women to let them know they were not alone in what they were going through.
“I had gone to one support group and it was mostly older women and it just wasn’t for me,” Gahagan recalled. “So then the Young Breast Friends was formed. I wasn’t actually the person who was supposed to run it — I was still going through my treatments and getting my own emotions and thoughts in control — but I quickly took over. I just had a knack for helping young women get past their fear and helping them take control of their lives and move forward from their diagnosis … and being better for it.”
The group has about 75 members, largely though Facebook, explained Gahagan, who married her husband, Mike, about a year and a half ago.
“I know about 45 of them personally. A lot of them don’t come to meetings. They just want the online support. We get anywhere from five to 12 people at our meetings,” she noted.
The group meets the third Thursday of the month at 45 Second Street Pike, Southampton. To register, visit www.thehealingconsciousness.com.
Gahagan said she had a lot of fun deciding where to spend her newfound money Saturday.
“I loved it. It was such an unexpected experience and it’s such a beautiful mall. We went to so many stores, like H&M and White House Black Market, where I bought a couple of pairs of jeans and blouses,” she said.
Although Gahagan was greeted by the mall’s guest services manager, Matthew LeMay, when she arrived, she went about her shopping spree on her own.
“We just wanted her to be comfortable. She was even free to come back another day to shop if she wanted to,” said Kathy Smith, the mall’s director of marketing, who said that the Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, had informally partnered with Susan G. Komen Foundation for years, but made it official in the past year.
“It’s our company’s way of raising breast cancer awareness and research at the corporate level. It’s a very fitting partnership between the shopping center developers and the organization. That works out to be a spring program and a fall program. We’re committed to raising $2 million in two years and we absolutely will hit the million-dollar mark this year,” Smith noted.
Saturday’s gift of a shopping spree was meant to recognize the mall’s relationship with Susan G. Koman Foundation while rewarding a breast cancer survivor during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Smith said.
Those who donate $10 to the foundation receive special discounts of up to 25 percent at participating stores, noted LeMay.
“If you’re buying a $1,000 bag at Coach 25 percent off is quite a discount,” he said.
The fundraising campaign provides the incentive that customers appreciate, Smith added.
“They see the offers that these retailers have extended,” she noted. “It’s a great value, but more than that, it’s an opportunity to support a great cause.”