Sparrow Gala chance to give back to Cancer Center

Published: Feb. 13, 2012

Supporting the Sparrow Cancer Center was always important to Annual Sparrow Gala co-chair Debby Harrison, but she "never in a million years" expected to become a Patient at the center.

Before she was diagnosed with cancer, Harrison, 65, of East Lansing served as the president of the Sparrow Guild, an organization that raises funds for important projects around Sparrow, including renovations in the Cancer Center.

"It was very ironic to be sitting in that dressing room, looking around at what I helped do," she said. "I never in a million years would have thought I'd be sitting in the Cancer Center getting treatment."

Fortunately, Harrison's cancer was caught early and today she is cancer free. Harrison and her husband, Michael Harrison, are co-chairs of the upcoming Annual Sparrow Gala along with Norm & Karen Grannemann; Charles & Lexie Blockett; John Barnas & Patty Lloyd-Barnas; Luciano DiCarlo, DO; Joseph Meunier, DO & Terri Meunier DO; Mark Rinella, Ph.D. & MaryLee Davis, Ph.D.

The Gala is an evening full of dining and entertainment at the University Club of MSU that supports the Sparrow Cancer Center. All proceeds from the Gala will directly benefit the Center and its Patients.

"When you are a cancer survivor, you have a passion to give back with encouragement and financial support for those who follow," she said.

Harrison was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2010 after getting her first digital mammogram at Sparrow. There was no history of breast cancer in her family, and until she received the biopsy results, Harrison expected the suspicious mammogram to turn out to be nothing. She underwent a lumpectomy and received radiation treatment at Sparrow. Harrison got her "all clear" in November 2010.

The Gala is an opportunity for people to make a long-term commitment to the Sparrow Cancer Center, in addition to enjoying an evening with friends, said Harrison.

"Not only does the Gala support a good cause, it is the must-attend event of the season," said Shela Dubenion-Smith, Development Director for the Sparrow Foundation. "Festivities for the evening include dancing and casino-style gaming, a wide array of elegant dining selections, and the opportunity to catch the MSU-Nebraska basketball game in a special sports bar created just for the event."

The Annual Sparrow Gala will be held Feb. 25 at the University Club. For tickets and more information, call 517.364.5680 or visit