What if drinking wine could cure cancer?
While that has unfortunately yet to be proven the case, a new, area charity has found another way to use wine to assist cancer patients—through selling it.
Chemo Noir, which officially launched last November, is a locally-formed nonprofit dedicated to providing financial assistance to those suffering under the many burdens of cancer. Founded by Nease High School alumna Katrin Casey, the organization held a “Crush Cancer” benefit at the Coastal Wine Market & Tasting Room in Nocatee on Aug. 21.
Attendees of the event were greeted by the popping sounds of not only wine bottles, but also purple balloons as guests searched for raffle tickets to win Chemo Noir swag. Bottles of the charity’s private label of Pinot Noir were also available for purchase to help raise funds.
“I met [Coastal Wine Market Co-owner Steve Lourie] at some point last year,” Casey said. “We just clicked and have a love of wine, and he’s just been such a tremendous partner.”
For Casey, the fight against cancer isn’t business; it’s personal. A cancer survivor herself, she knows firsthand the difficulties one faces after being told those three words that no one ever wants to hear.
“It was a real surprise,” Casey said of when she first received her diagnosis. “I went into the hospital for something totally different and woke up and they said, ‘You have cancer.’ It just kind of rocks your world a bit.”
During the nine months she underwent treatment, Casey strived to stay positive, finding comfort in the occasional glass of wine.
“If I could stomach a little bit of red wine here and there, I would call those my ‘Chemo Noir’ nights,” she said.
Now three years cancer-free, Casey aims to comfort others locked in their own battles with the disease by lessening their financial burdens.
“Cancer’s so crippling in so many ways, and it really should be focused on the fight and not on having to pay all your bills,” she said.
Ultimately, Casey’s plan is for Chemo Noir to pay beneficiaries’ medical bills directly. Beneficiaries, she added, will be chosen through an application process, and the organization plans to award its first check in November.
With some local businesses already signed on as partners, Casey hopes to eventually raise Chemo Noir’s impact to a national level. In the meantime, however, she is content to focus on the Greater Jacksonville area, with another event already scheduled for next month.
From 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, Chemo Noir will host a one-mile run on Jacksonville Beach. The race will start at the Jacksonville Beach Pier and will be followed by a free wine tasting, courtesy of Coastal Wine Market. For more information about Chemo Noir and its upcoming events, visit www.chemonoir.com.