Why I Unmasque

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By Tarrah Curtis

We are excited to host the 2nd Annual Unmasque Cancer event in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 29, 2017. SAVE THE DATE! This year, we are thrilled to be at The Mark for Events, located right in the heart of Los Angeles. We have a strong and active committee of Samfund volunteers, Sambassadors and others who are helping us put together what we know will be a fantastic night.

This year, we’re introducing another exciting facet to the evening: the inaugural Unmasque Awards honoring those in our community that help fight the negative side effects of cancer – through local fundraisers or globe-trotting adventures or simply by giving of time to help another. We’re accepting nominations through February 13, 2017, so if you know someone who goes above and beyond to help others in the cancer community, nominate them today!

Looking back it seems like just yesterday we were putting the finishing touches on the inaugural event at Union Station in 2015. I mean, just check out the pictures! What a great night we had!

Stay tuned for more announcements and blog posts about Unmasque Cancer 2017! In the coming weeks, we’ll share the stories of more of the faces behind Unmasque, and also some details of the event itself. And, if you want to get more involved, email events@thesamfund.org.

Unmasque Cancer is the brainchild of Tarrah Curtis, who conceived of the event and is producing it for the second time. Read on to find out why Tarrah has undertaken such an enormous labor of love.

Why Unmasque?

For me, the fact that we are looking forward to the second Unmasque Cancer event is both unbelievable and exciting.

Unbelievable because it feels like just yesterday I was floating this crazy “let’s have a masquerade to raise money for a cancer charity” idea to trusted friends. Even more unbelievable because they didn’t think I was crazy – well, not totally. And out of this world unbelievable because those same friends helped make it a reality.

We had such a clear vision for that event and what the moment of “unmasqueing” would be like. We knew what we were driving towards, we just hadn’t a clue how to get there. And then… one of those friends introduced me to The Samfund.

This friend, a friend from college, who had recently gone back to volunteering for The Samfund, wasn’t just connecting me with this cool organization she volunteered for, she was connecting me (both of us really) with the time in my life that cancer really changed my world.

When I was in my early twenties, fresh out of college and contemplating moves to other cities without a care in the world, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Still today everything about that period feels like it happened in an instant but at the same time like the world came to a screeching halt. It was only a few short months. It was also during that same time, that same friend who would later introduce me to The Samfund, was facing the same battle with her mom. We lost our parents within months of each other. We don’t often speak of it, but I think we both know, we wouldn’t be where we are today (personally, professionally and as friends) if we hadn’t had each other to lean on at that time.

Unmasque lightThe fact that she is the reason The Samfund found its way into my life and into this crazy masquerade made it all that more meaningful. I know what it’s like to have someone close to you fighting cancer when you are in your twenties; I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in your 20’s and be the one fighting cancer. The Samfund could not have been a more perfect fit.

From that point forward, with The Samfund on board, the next nine months were a blur. The friends who jumped into the planning with both feet and never asked questions. The friends who showed up to planning meetings and got their bosses to donate silent auction items. The friends who brought friends and friends-of-friends to pre-event fundraisers. The friends who spent hours rehearsing for a one-of-a-kind dance performance. The friends who donated time to be a part of the event, to help promote the event. The friends who opened their home to us – so a bunch of strangers could have their photos taken for us. The friends and family who flew (and drove) across country to support us. The new people we met who made Unmasque Cancer their own “Kicking Cancer’s Ass” Prom. The friend who outed his own battle with cancer on ESPN radio because it would help us. It was a small army that contributed to the success of the first Unmasque Cancer. And, it was an amazing, emotional and triumphant night!

It’s all a series of moments flashing by – the first phone call with Sam (while sitting in a hotel lobby in Dallas), the look on the photographer’s face when he knew he nailed the shot, sitting on the floor with a glasses of wine sending out sponsorship emails in the dark during a power outage, “method” event planning, the day the first silent auction items arrived, the pile of donated goods that overtook my apartment, finally meeting Sam and Kristen at the photo shoot in Boston, the moment the dancers first saw the space, our host, Jesse, tucked away in the corner with Sam and then every survivor in the room, so he could hear their stories, the piles of cookies our moms made, and finally, that moment, just before the unmasqueing, when we realized it was really happening.

All of that, and it’s still unbelievable to me that it even happened.

Now, as we countdown the weeks until Unmasque Cancer 2017, I’m excited for The Samfund to launch the Unmasque Awards, to see what the 2017 Planning Committee comes up with, to do it all again… and to do it even better together! We hope you will join us if not in attendance, then in spirit.

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