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Bridal Show Will Showcase URI Grad, Cancer Survivor

Exeter resident and University of Rhode Island graduate Mandy Zito will be one of the models for the annual ‘Get Pink’ bridal show in Newport.

Release courtesy the Jai Consulting Group, on behalf of the Get Pink Bridal Show.

The Rhode Island Wedding Group’s Annual Get Pink Bridal Show will take place on Sunday, March 24, from noon until 4 p.m. at the Newport Marriott Hotel.

Proceeds from the event, which includes a silent bridal auction, will be donated to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. 

Visitors can expect a well-rounded experience including sneak peeks at the latest wedding trends, dance lessons, and a bridal fashion show featuring breast cancer survivors modeling gorgeous gowns, formal attire, mother-of-the-bride and bridesmaid looks, and all the hottest hair and makeup styles. 

Modeling a glamorous bridesmaid dress will be Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation Young Survivor Coordinator Mandy Zito, the newest addition to the Foundation team, a University of Rhode Island graduate who lives in Exeter with her husband, Howie.    

“I’m definitely no stranger to bridesmaid dresses,” Zito said, laughing. “I think I’ve been a bridesmaid seven times, including September of last year at my cousin’s wedding.”  

Zito was diagnosed in the fall of 2008, just eight weeks after her husband’s treatment for testicular cancer. In her early 30s at the time, Zito found it challenging to connect with younger breast cancer patients and survivors.   

“Even though I appreciated meeting and learning from the women I came into contact with during my treatment, they were in their 50s and 60s,” Zito said. “I was definitely looking for women my own age who were going through a similar experience.”  

Thankfully, she didn’t have to look for long. A social worker at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence introduced her to Erin Coonan Schmidt and the two became fast friends.

“Erin was one of the few people during that time who I could talk to about ‘normal’ things,” Zito said. “We talked about our lives, and not just about our cancer.”  

Then a preschool teacher, Zito was so affected by her experience that she decided change her career, enrolling in the University of Rhode Island’s human development and family services program.

After graduating in the spring of 2012, Zito’s life experience and education uniquely qualified her to help younger patients and survivors come together to form bonds like the one she formed with Erin Coonan Schmidt in 2008.

After an internship during her senior year at URI, Zito joined the Pawtucket-based Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s team permanently in the fall of 2012.

As for Schmidt, she leads a weekly yoga practice specifically designed for younger breast cancer survivors at Shri Studio, also in Pawtucket. The yoga class was a welcome addition to the free programs and services the Foundation offers young women who participate in the program Zito currently manages.

“I wish there would’ve been a program like the Foundation’s when I was going through treatment,” she said. “Younger breast cancer patients and survivors face unique challenges and I’m honored to help make coping with those issues a little easier for other women.”    

This isn’t Mandy Zito’s first time modeling for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. She appeared in the 2012 “Our Heroes” Annual Survivor Fashion Show, also at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, and she’s the July survivor model in the Foundation’s 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar. 

Additionally, Zito and Schmidt both appear in “Young Survivors,” the first episode in a new Foundation-produced nonfiction television series called Behind the Ribbon, which premieres on Rhode Island PBS on March 30 at 7:00 p.m.  

The 2013 Get Pink Bridal Show is an opportunity to mingle with some of the most experienced wedding professionals in the Ocean State. For couples planning the ultimate wedding day, the event is a perfect chance to learn from and be inspired by skilled experts. Cost of admission is $5.00 and all proceeds will be donated to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Early registration, which includes entry into a “Newport Mini-Moon” giveaway and a VIP entrance to the show, is now open! For more information, please visit www.rhodeislandweddinggroup.com.

About the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation

The Gloria Gemma Foundation was established in 2004 in loving memory of Gloria J. Gemma and to honor her courageous fight against breast cancer. The organization’s mission is to raise breast cancer awareness; increase breast health education; enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients, as well as their families and friends; and generate funding for local breast health programs. For more information, please call 401-861-HERO (4376) or visit www.gloriagemma.org.

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