A day-long benefit on Saturday, Sept. 29, will give the community a chance to benefit a long-time animal advocate.
Dee Hoffman, who is on indefinite leave from her long-time job as director of the Huntington County Humane Shelter, recently had a double mastectomy after finding a lump in her breast. She expects to begin chemotherapy within the next few weeks and may also face radiation treatment and additional surgery. She has no health insurance.
Hoffman, whose brother served in the United States Navy, is a member of the Women's Auxiliary to American Legion Post 7, and the Legion has stepped up to help her out.
"When she told us she had cancer, we said, ‘Let's do a benefit,'" says Sally Gamble, an Auxiliary member who is helping to organize the event.
The day will begin with a motorcycle ride, leaving from American Legion Post 7, 1330 Etna Ave., at 10:45 a.m. Registration is from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. There is a fee for each rider and each passenger. The bikers are expected to return between 1:30 and 2 p.m.
Once the bikers are back, events will begin at the Etna Avenue post. Those events are open to the community.
Anyone younger than 18 may not enter the building because of state smoking regulations, but activities, dining tables and portable restrooms will be available outside.
Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served beginning at 2 p.m. and a bake sale will start at the same time.
Pull tabs and 50/50 raffle tickets will be available throughout the afternoon, and a limited number of raffle tickets will be available for a large flat screen television. A jail-and-bail event will also take place during the afternoon.
Neal Snyder will conduct an auction from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Auction items include a solid oak poker table with four leather chairs, a portable poker table in a carrying case, a wood armoire, oil changes, an Ovation guitar, framed pictures, a hall tree, gas cards, a bicycle tune-up, restaurant coupons, hair products, golf items, a child's picnic table, a decorated chair, jewelry and more.
An open mic event starts at 6:30 p.m. Anyone in the mood to make some music is invited to bring their guitar or other instrument and their vocals.
"I'm hoping to be able to play myself that day," Hoffman says.
Hoffman's ordeal began almost three years ago when, while she was being treated for another health issue, doctors told her she had a pre-cancerous condition. The breast cancer diagnosis came last June, and she had the mastectomy on Aug. 21.
These days, Hoffman is sporting a short haircut, dyed pink.
"The pink hair's not just for me," she says. "It's for everybody who's struggling with cancer.
"It's a scary road, but when you're wearing pink, you feel empowered."
Hoffman, originally from Cincinnati, OH, came to Huntington in 1991 and found a part-time job at the Huntington County Humane Shelter - a job she says helped her overcome an addiction she was struggling with.
"Animals really don't care what kind of crap you've got going on," she says. "They just love you. They saved my life."
Hoffman paid those animals back by working with the shelter for 22 years, eventually directing the operations there and serving as the face of the shelter in the community.
"All I hope is that I made a difference," she says.
The benefit is sponsored by American Legion Post 7, American Legion Riders, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 7 and Sons of American Legion Post 7.