Ellen Hermanson Foundation Honors Cancer Survivor at Spring Dance Party

Angela LaGreca in 2019
Angela LaGreca
Photo © Richard Lewin

The Ellen Hermanson Foundation will hold its Spring Warm-Up Dance Party on Saturday, April 22 to kick off the 28th annual Ellen’s Run benefit.

Along with offering an evening of dancing and drinks, the event will celebrate Emmy-winning television producer, entertainer and breast cancer survivor Angela LaGreca; Ellen’s Run icon and top community supporter Eliot Rodman Smith; and The Shocking Pinks, Ellen’s Run’s number-one fundraising team for the past three years — including captain Sheryl Heather and team members Jeannie Sullivan-Curran, Maureen Drew, Erin Finley, Claudia Ferrara, and Dottie Macaluso.

Shinnecock storyteller, writer and performer Andrina Wekontash Smith is the evening’s emcee and auctioneer for the silent auction, while DJ Double S Productions will provide dance music, alongside a delicious spread from Sydney’s Gourmet, an array of signature drinks, and more.

LaGreca, who recently left her job as Dan’s Papers VP of Events and Features, and is now a writer and producer for CUOMO, Chris Cuomo’s new show on NewsNation, was diagnosed with breast cancer while doing a “buddy mammogram” segment with her friend Meredith Vieira on Vieira’s eponymous TV show nearly a decade ago.

LaGreca’s appearance on the show (where she was also a producer), and her subsequent writings about her experience battling and ultimately surviving the disease, inspired countless women to follow her lead and schedule their own mammograms, and it probably saved some lives in the process.

She even had the opportunity to interview Dr. Jill Biden as part of the then-Second Lady’s effort to spread breast cancer awareness.

In the years that followed her cancer, LaGreca also became an active supporter of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation here in the Hamptons, hosting events and speaking up about the disease and the foundation’s efforts to advocate for patients and support the fight against breast cancer.

LaGreca says she initially ended up working with the Ellen Hermanson Foundation due to her visibility. “I think because I had breast cancer and it was sort of public,” she explains, pointing out that the East End has a disconcerting number of breast cancer cases for such a small area.

“With humor, grace and generosity you have served as MC, auctioneer, entertainment, host at a number of our events helping to spread the word about The Ellen Hermanson Foundation and ensuring that our events were successful,” Ellen Hermanson Foundation founder and chair Julie Ratner said to LaGreca in a text explaining why she chose her for this honor. “As a breast cancer survivor, you have been an outspoken advocate for access to breast health care sharing your own story with honesty, passion and urgency,” Ratner continued, adding, “You are a role model; you walk the talk and teach by example.”

While acknowledging her deep gratitude for receiving the honor, LaGreca adds, “I’m just another person who got lucky.” She humbly eschews the notion of being deserving, noting that she hadn’t had a mammogram for five years when Vieira convinced her to go, and she didn’t want to do it then either.

“I don’t feel like I’m any kind of hero,” LaGreca continues. “I think heroes are firefighters and cops and soldiers, and people who dedicate their lives to research and make no money and have to pay back big student loans. Those are heroes,” she says. “I was just maybe a little bit courageous and kind of funny about it. … In my mind, I kind of did the wrong thing and then got lucky.”

That said, LaGreca did step up to become a valued member of the East End’s community of breast cancer survivors, and did much to help others not feel so alone or afraid to get tested.

“I was happy about that and I’m happy to always try to talk to people,” she says, adding later, “I think raising awareness, I think what we do as journalists is valuable if you can tell a solid story and get the word out, that has value.”

Oscar-winning star of stage and screen, longtime Hamptons resident and LaGreca’s friend, Mercedes Ruehl will present her honor.

Mercedes Ruehl is starring in Love Letters at Suffolk Theater
Mercedes Ruehl

The Spring Warm-Up Dance Party runs Saturday, April 22 from 6:30–10 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Community House in Bridgehampton (2368 Montauk Highway).

“This party is so much fun, and what a great way to kick off the Ellen’s Run fundraising season. We are excited about this event, because we love when the East End community comes together,” Ratner says. “They amaze us with their generosity and endless support.”

In 2022, The Ellen Hermanson Foundation granted $360,000 in support of breast health care to the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and community organizations including The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center, OLA of Eastern Long Island, the Shinnecock Health Center, and The Retreat.

Tickets for the Spring Warm-Up Dance Party start at $175.

All information about the event, links to tickets, and details about Ellen’s Run can be found at ellenhermanson.org.