In Colleen’s Honor: “Pink Clover” taking on breast cancer

The foundation's 3rd Annual Golf Outing is on Oct. 22. “This has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life,” said Dan Weaver, one of the original members of the foundation’s board.

Members of Pink Clover, the Colleen Sorbello Breast Cancer Foundation, present a check to Barbara Harris at last year’s annual golf outing. Sadly, Harris, a Mullica Hill resident of 31 years, passed away in May. The third annual Golf Outing is scheduled for Oct. 22. (Photo provided)

Three years ago, the family and friends of Colleen Sorbello took an idea she had and honored her spirit and legacy by naming it Pink Clover: The Colleen Sorbello Breast Cancer Foundation. 

Sorbello passed away in September of 2017. A month later, the foundation was launched and in the three years since, has hosted golf outings and black-tie galas, 5K Runs, bowling events and beef-and-beers. 

The foundation’s impact is far reaching, but they’ve specifically helped comfort 10 women battling breast cancer by presenting them with checks from money raised in their events.

“This has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life,” said Dan Weaver, one of the original members of the foundation’s board.

Weaver had known Colleen McGuinness (her maiden name, thus the “clover” in the foundation title for her Irish heritage) since both were in eighth grade. Weaver’s wife, Sandy, was Colleen’s lifelong best friend. They were as close as sisters.

Dan Weaver was visiting with his father this spring, talking about work, family, Pink Clover and growing up, when his dad interrupted him.

“When you talk about the charity, it seems to make you happier,” the elder Weaver said.

“So I didn’t realize it until my father pointed it out,” Dan Weaver said. “But it’s also been the hardest thing I’ve done. It certainly makes you look at things differently and appreciate the little things.”

Tom Weaver passed away from COVID-19 complications in June. He was 85.

His son, daughter-in-law and their friends aren’t slowing down in keeping Pink Clover’s mission going. The Pink Clover 3rd Annual Golf Outing is taking place on Thursday, Oct. 22, at Harbor Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township.

The foundation expects more than 120 golfers at the event, which will include food and drink carts throughout the 18-hole course, prizes for longest drive and straightest shot, three hole-in-one prizes, $2,500 for anyone who can sink a 60-foot putt, and awards for the first- and second- place foursomes. Anyone interested in being either a participant or a sponsor can register at Pink Clover’s website.

Last year, part of the golf outing’s proceeds went to Barbara Harris, a local woman who had been battling breast cancer. Pink Clover presented a $2,500 check to Harris in an effort to help her with expenses related to her cancer ordeal.

Harris, sadly, passed away in May at 67. Another of Pink Clover’s comfort recipients, Shannon Daly-Cleary, a 44-year-old mother of three young daughters, died earlier this month. Glenn Parker, Colleen Sorbello’s brother and another founding member of Pink Clover were among those who paid their respects at her services two weeks ago.

“The comfort part, I’d say that’s the heart of our foundation,” Parker said. “Someday, hopefully, they find a cure. Until then, women are going to be suffering and we have to find out a way that we can help them out … In the grand scheme of things, we don’t give them a great amount of money, but we give them something. We try to help them, and we keep in communication with them. We don’t lose touch with them afterward.”

Comfort is one of Pink Clover’s three main tenets: The other two are research and education. Parker said an education lecture series had been scheduled for April but had to be postponed due to COVID. But the foundation will reboot the seminars in 2021, with community outreach-type events educating people on the importance of regular screenings, Q&A sessions and guest speakers. 

The postponed April event, scheduled at a church in Millville, was to have an oncologist from Inspira Health as a guest speaker.

“We’re trying to hit areas where the information might not be as readily available,” Parker explained.

As far as research, Pink Clover has already taken huge strides. The foundation made a five-year pledge to a trial case at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine, and shortly after Colleen Sorbello’s passing, her husband, Sam Sorbello, made a donation to the University of New Haven’s research laboratory (which is now named in her honor, too).

“He went there and played football,” Parker noted. “(School officials) mentioned that they had this breast cancer research laboratory and asked (Colleen and Sam) to take a tour a few years ago. And then the idea popped in my sister’s head: I want to do this, I want to do a breast cancer foundation.”

With events sprinkled throughout the year, an 11th comfort recipient being recognized in the upcoming golf outing and new but still-unannounced initiatives coming to the research and education objectives in 2021, Pink Clover is taking Colleen Sorbello’s idea and making a difference for both those fighting breast cancer and toward the goal of finding a cure, too.

“When I see you all wearing pink, it’s a promise to me that there’s a cure,” Parker said, repeating his sister’s motto. “This was her vision. She would be humbled (with what we’ve accomplished), since it came from her idea and it’s in her name.”