Donna Terrell wanted to do something meaningful for cancer patients as she grieved the loss of her daughter, Queah, who died in 2011 of colon cancer.
Through her Yoga Warriors organization, she has done that – funding liquid nutritional supplements for cancer survivors, bi-weekly yoga classes for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, and through raising awareness for early detection of colon and other types of cancers.
The fifth annual community-wide Yoga Warriors event is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 20 at the Downtown Little Rock Doubletree Hotel. Find more information on the event and ways to support Yoga Warriors at yogawarriors.org. Donna shares some Yoga Warriors insight, history and enthusiasm with us as she looks forward to this year’s event.
What growth have you seen over the past six years with Yoga Warriors?
Our very first year we raised about $2,400, and we gave all of the money to the American Cancer Society. In last five years, we have raised enough money to give away $15,000.So we are really, really growing and it feels good because our reach is broader, and we’re helping in many different ways.
What is your connection to CARTI?
There was no real rhyme or reason other than the fact that I was thinking, “Where can I find a lot of cancer survivors in one location?” CARTI jumped in my head and I decided to reach out to them and see what it is that we can do to help them. Obviously CARTI gets a lot of money for various things. Our Warriors Board decided to provide liquid nutritional supplements for the survivors at CARTI because, at the time, you know our funds weren’t that large. So instead of finding individuals on our own, we sort of let them do that for us and that partnership has worked well.
Yoga Warriors also provides yoga for patients?
In the last two years we started offering yoga for cancer survivors and their caregivers. Wes Pilcher is leading the charge with that and I have let him take the lead on that. The key is to always make everything we’re doing available to the patients because they really need the support. Having been a caregiver myself, I know how important it is to find ways to serve them, too. There’s a lot of stress being a caregiver. Your patient is your loved one. They don’t want to be in that situation. And as a caregiver, you don’t want to see them in that situation either. That can cause a lot of stress emotionally and physically. We’re just trying to give them enough of the practice of yoga and meditation to provide them with some relief. I’ve been very successful this year in achieving that.
Dawn Scott from KTHV is teaching this year! You also brought the news media together for this event. Tell us about that?
Can you believe it! It’s very interesting. Dawn hasn’t been teaching yoga as much lately, but she is still practicing a lot. When I asked if she would consider being our instructor she said yes, so that meant the world to me. But even beyond Dawn, every news anchor said yes when I called and explained to them what I was trying to do. That’s amazing. Every single one said yes.
We are all very competitive. This is a very competitive industry, but I wanted to show that there is unity among us when it comes to certain issues that affect our hearts. Each and every one of the ladies that are involved have been touched by cancer in one way or another – whether it’s been themselves, a close family member or friend, a co-worker, or story that they did. And I don’t just mean colon cancer. So how could they say, “Not this story, another one?”
What vendors can we expect to see this year?
Obviously CARTI will be there as media sponsor. Community Health Centers of Arkansas is a new sponsor that also came aboard this year. Also, Dr. McGee with Arkansas Diagnostic Center will have a booth set up, and from what I’m told, they will be handing out some colon cancer detection kits. That will be good for our group and I want to make sure that people get those. Even though it’s not as effective as getting a colonoscopy, it is better than doing nothing at all.
Will there be silent auction, raffle, especially that really cool Yeti?
You can buy yoga mats and the different paraphernalia that won’t be selling like t-shirts and tank tops. So it’ll tank house really cute for this event. What I really like is that there’s no pressure. We want you to come and hear the message that we have in addition to the fun and giving away stuff. You can leave with something you never expected to have – something that is of value. You know, my mother always told me, “Donna, don’t give anyone anything that you wouldn’t want.” I always try to make sure to give away things that would be something I would want. McLarty Ford and Lincoln in North Little Rock have been supporting us. The general manager there is just fantastic. They give us a Yeti cooler and they wrap it in our logo and they put their logo on it. Everybody wants the Yeti cooler. Sissy’s Log Cabin gave us a fine piece of jewelry. Everybody wants to get jewelry. Dillard’s has given us a couple of things. You know, everybody wants a handbag and shoe party. People just really like going after these things.
How can we find more information about the event?
You can go to the website www.yogawarriors.org and also follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Or they can follow me on those pages because I post a lot of similar things. They can also look for our event page on Facebook and let us know that they’re coming.
I am very excited about this. It’s truly a labor of love, but I have some really cool people who work with me and volunteers that really step up to the plate and help to make this all happen.