By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Cancer Support Group opened its Safe Haven House in the Birdtown Community in November 2011. The group renamed the house Betty’s Place on Thursday, Sept. 5 in honor of the late Betty Dupree who worked tirelessly for the cause.
“She was probably one of the strongest people I have ever known,” said Warren Dupree, Betty’s son. “She may have been short in in stature, but she would go toe to toe with anyone if she felt it needed to be. She stood up for people.”
He went on to say, “She was also a very humble person. This would have sort of irritated her because she felt that she was not worthy of something like this. She led by example and she mentored everybody. A lot of folks did not realize they were being mentored until years later…it was just the way mom was. She led you without you knowing you were being led in a very kind and caring way.”
Karen Wilkensan, one of Betty’s friends, spoke at Thursday’s event. The two met in 2007, but Wilkensan said, “I felt like I knew her forever the moment I met her. I just knew her as a friend, and she was a great friend. She could make anyone feel comfortable.”
Wilkensan told of trips with Betty including driving the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway and attending baseball spring training in Phoenix. Laughing, she related, “She loved her baseball.”
Wilkensan said Betty was especially proud of the Safe Haven House. “She was so proud to finally have a central place where people could get service. She was so persistent in trying to get this to come about.”
The house itself was donated to the Cancer Support Group by the Tribe, who also remodeled the inside, in 2011.
Several donations were made to the Cancer Support Group during Thursday’s event including a $150 donation from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation which was presented by CPF executive director Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and a $500 donation from Cameron Cooper who hosted a benefit Cornhole tournament to raise funds for the Cancer Support Group.
Cooper related, “I want to see a cure one day, and I think we’re on the verge of a cure. The support is just as good as medicine.”
The Support Group started in 1998 and provides many services relating to cancer including helping with wheelchairs, mastectomy items like breast forms, wig fittings, and the most important, emotional support. Info: Cherokee Cancer Support Group 497-0788