In 2004, Sherie Hildreth was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. If the disease alone wasn’t frustrating enough, there was a lack of resources and what seemed like no other women to connect with in Oregon. During her treatment, Sherie noticed a lot of women did not have anyone to turn to, and wanted to create a support system for these women so that they wouldn’t have to travel the path of treatment alone.
In the midst of her battle, Sherie decided she did not want to be quiet about her disease any longer. She was tired of wearing her wig; to keep her head warm she made a fleece hat. She found that this hat seemed to empower her to be who she really was, which sparked the idea for Sherie and her good friend Cathy to create “Hats of Empowerment” and hopefully empower other women, too. Hats of Empowerment grew from one fleece hat to a collection of hats including ball caps with and without beads, as well as beaded bracelets in teal and all cancer colors. From there, the Sherie Hildreth Ovarian Cancer (SHOC—pronounced “shock”) Foundation was created. Headquartered in Gladstone, Oregon, the Foundation aims to “SHOC” people into awareness while fundraising for research, early detection and to one day find a cure.
The SHOC Foundation’s flagship event, Empowerment Day, is held on the first Saturday in August. With options to walk or run a 5k, 10k, or 1-mile family walk (dogs too!), this is an event the entire community is enthusiastic to support. Between the Harley Davidson motorcycle lead off, the Rose City Roller Derby Girls “Rolling Support” and the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers to provide cadence, the race is packed with high energy and support. Most importantly, the event also celebrates the survivors and makes them feel honored with a Survivor’s Breakfast. Another annual event that benefits SHOC is the Drive Out Ovarian Cancer Golf Tournament held on the first Friday in September.
Apart from the SHOC Foundation’s two fundraisers, they put on multiple events and activities for survivors. One is an afternoon tea called ‘Teal in the Garden,’ held during the month of September—Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. This is a catered event for survivors to come relax in the healing garden at the SHOC Foundation headquarters, and enjoy good conversation and the company of other survivors. This is also when the SHOC Foundation presents their annual gift to the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The SHOC Foundation is currently a member of the OHSU President’s Society, Silver Medallion Level, having donated more than $465,000 since their inception with funds solely from fundraising events and supporter donations. These funds are funneled directly to a local gynecologic research team focused on development of strategies for early diagnosis, more effective targeted therapies, prevention of Ovarian and other gynecologic cancers in women at risk, and genetic causes of Ovarian Cancer headed by Dr. Tanja Pejovic, M.D., Ph.D. at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute.
After Sherie passed away, her husband Bruce took over the role of President/Executive Director and continues efforts in leading the Foundation and keeping Sherie’s dream alive. The SHOC Foundation was first introduced to the Alliance through Diane O’Connor, an Alliance Board Member, and decided to become a Partner Member as they felt the Alliance’s focus on research and education was in line with theirs, and thought that together we could make a difference. Most importantly, Bruce stated: “We want the rest of the country to know that we have something big happening out here in Oregon.”