Another rainy Pittsburgh day couldn't dampen the spirits of the Veterans who gathered for fun, food and fellowship during the second Spring Fling luncheon on a recent afternoon at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's University Drive campus.
The event, which more than 60 Veterans, their loved ones and VAPHS staff attended, is the health care system's special thank you to the former service members receiving cancer care here.
"The day was excellent," said Voluntary Services Director Debbie Goral of the May 18 luncheon. "The collaborative effort of Recreation, Oncology, Voluntary Services and Radiology created a lighthearted atmosphere."
Veterans enjoyed a catered pasta lunch and live music from Veterans Miguel Garcia and Jerry Coyne, who are also VAPHS employees.
World War II Veteran Henry Parham, 89, said he enjoyed the atmosphere of support in the room.
"It's great we get together so you can meet all the people that are involved in your care," said Parham, who saw action at D-Day as a member of the Army's barrage balloon battalion. Parham receives chemotherapy and radiation twice a year at VA Pittsburgh.
Representatives from Gilda's Club of Western Pennsylvania were on hand this year to introduce the program to the Veterans. Founded by actor Gene Wilder in memory of his comedian wife Gilda Radner, the clubs provide free social and emotional support for anyone living with cancer.
"It was a wonderful way to bring Veterans together and celebrate spring...and to introduce Gilda's Club to the VA," said Colleen Dwyer, program director of the local Gilda's Club chapter.
Dwyer hopes to soon start a Gilda's Club-sponsored support group for VAPHS Veterans.