Twenty-five years have come and gone, but one thing remains constant through the sands of time: Links for Life continues to be a beacon of hope for hundreds of Kern County’s breast cancer patients, survivors and their families.
Like many monumental events, Links for Life emerged from a conversation among friends. Sharyn Woods and Bonnie Gould, founded the Business and Charity Golf Link in July 1992, which would grow to be the organization Links for Life. The tournament focused on cultivating a network that would raise funds for giving the community a link to support services. This was important to Woods and Carol Barraza, who was a breast cancer survivor and advocate.
Links’ founders first set their sights on engaging Kern’s strong women in business, offering Links memberships at $50 per charter member through October 1992 and then raising the price to $75 per member. It was under the shining summer sun of August 1992 that the first golf tournament was held at Wasco Valley Rose course in Wasco.
The outreach-service-based organization had a set focus and a powerful volunteer base to propel its mission. Dedicated to providing a network for women, and eventually men, affected with breast cancer, Links strategically partnered with health care providers and fully emphasize the importance that women in Kern County needed to be aware of their breast health.
In 2006, the organization official set its name to Links for Life, operating outreach services, local support groups for survivors and the acclaimed wig boutique at no cost to cancer survivors.
The organization has continued to evolve over the years and is seen as one of the leading nonprofit organizations in Kern County. Through community grants and donations, Links for Life is able to provide a Comprehensive Breast Health Program that funds mammograms, ultrasounds and needle biopsies for those who are uninsured or under insured and live in Kern County.
Additionally, Links for Life’s reach goes directly into the local health care community and has established strong connections with all doctors and clinics in Kern County.
It’s true what they say about humble beginnings, the best of intentions and the power of positive thinking.
Links for Life is living proof.
From inception to 2018, Links for Life has served an average of 28,000 women and men in Kern County per year over the past 25 years through direct services, education and outreach, which is nearly 700,000 overall – an astounding number, to say the least.
However, it is the volunteers, the staff, and the organization’s intrepid leader and executive director, Jennifer Henry, that give the organization life. Meeting them for the first time is like sitting down with a dear friend. Working beside them is inspiring and being part of them is to truly know what it means to be selfless and giving.
Twenty-five years have come and gone in a blink of an eye, but the torch still burns bright and it burns with passion.