Selby Dunham

PalmSprings.com Spotlight: An Interview with Selby Dunham, Founder, BIGHORN Behind A Miracle

Selby Dunham is the founder of BIGHORN BAM (Behind a Miracle). Inspired to save the lives of Coachella Valley cancer patients, BIGHORN Behind A Miracle raised over $1.285 million last season for cancer patient support services, breast cancer diagnostic technologies and educational scholarships during their five-month long fundraising campaign.

BIGHORN BAM’s 2013-2014 fundraising dollars benefited The Pendleton Foundation and Eisenhower Medical Center. The Pendleton Foundation received $150,000 to help cancer patients relieve some of the financial burdens while affording their treatments. In addition, BIGHORN BAM has given $1,000,000 to the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center to support a Giotto Mammography machine, allowing the patient additional comfort and ease during biopsies in the new BIGHORN BAM procedure suite. On January 30th, Selby Dunham was honored with the “Jackie Lee Houston Heart of Gold Award” at the Women Leadership Forum of the Coachella Valley’s 3rd annual Women Who Rule Awards Luncheon and Scholarship Fundraiser.

Kate Buckley: Selby, you’ve truly worked miracles with BIGHORN BAM (Behind a Miracle), raising an astounding $4.5 million in fundraising in seven years to benefit Coachella Valley cancer patients. What led you to create this inspiring foundation?

Selby Dunham:  After my cancer treatments—which included five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy with lymph node removal and 33 radiation treatments—I was asked to help with a breast cancer golf tournament at Bighorn. The next year they asked me to chair the event, and that’s when we came up with Bighorn Behind A Miracle—keeping all proceeds right here in the Valley. Our Bighorn members were so eager to help—it’s really amazing how generous everyone is.  After the first year we saw that we had something special, and it just keeps on growing!

As 9-year Breast Cancer Survivor, how has your journey impacted how you help others fight cancer?

Having been through cancer and seeing first hand what one goes through and what patients’ need are, I have some insight as to what is needed—or at least can find out what specific needs might be.  I believe one reason that we’ve been able to raise as much money and help as many people as we have is that each year we get a “Wish List” from the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center so we know exactly where our money is going, and people feel more confident with that.  Each year LCCC assists over 25,000 patients…and BAM has impacted each and every one of them!

Do you have any upcoming fundraising events that our readers should know about?

Absolutely! We have what we call BAM Week. It starts on March 15th with “A Night of Miracles.”  This fun party is held at Bighorn Golf Club around the pool area, and  includes cocktails, dinner, silent and live auction items, wine pull and paddle up and lots of dancing—many participate in both the auction and paddle up events! There is a wonderful band called the Blue Note Orchestra to start the evening, and then the Night Shift Band comes on for some great dance music.  The same band played at “A Miracle on El Paseo” in November for the tree lighting—they are really good!

March 18th-19th, we have the Caddy Auction and Golf Tournament. This is a ladies only tournament and ALL about having fun!  The money we raise in the Caddy Auction goes entirely to the transportation program. Last year we had the best year ever—the average caddy bid was $7,000!  He or she gets to hit one shot per hole for the team (it’s a scramble format so it’s easy). We have people that participate in the auction but don’t necessarily play a lot of golf—they might just putt, but they want to be part of a team…it’s a total blast!  The next morning we have breakfast on the range, tee off at 8:30am, and then lunch and awards afterward.

How else can people get involved with BIGHORN BAM, or help in the fight against cancer in the Coachella Valley?

Kate, this very blog is helping to get the word about breast cancer, BAM and the state of the art facility at the Lucy Curci Cancer Center right here in our own back yard!  One of the best stories I have about someone taking charge and getting involved is Susan Goldfine’s.  Susan called me after reading an article about BAM and wanted to know what she could do to help. She asked me if we had ever thought of having a “Game Day” to help raise funds. We met for lunch and she explained what she thought would be a way to raise money while having fun playing cards, mahjong, gin etc. Susan has now organized this event for six years and has raised almost $100,000…that’s the difference one person can make!  As everyone knows, to be able to keep up with the latest technology and to get the best doctors, it takes money.

We are able to get some of the very best of both because of the generous donors here in the Valley—no matter the size of the donation, every penny goes to improving existing equipment, buying new equipment, helping those that need support, and keeping our cancer center one of the very best.  One thing new this year is a corporate or company sponsorship—we have a vision to get more of the local companies involved with BAM, both individual and company donors can donate on our web site: www.bighornbam.com and also find out more information about all the many things we do.  And on the health side of the best things to do, in my opinion, is to get a mammogram every year starting at the age of 40—that, in itself, can help with early detection and life saving measures.

Tell me about Miracle Messages.

These were started a few years back and they are posted on our web site.  They are messages of hope, faith, concern and love meant to encourage those that might be going through cancer, or who know someone who is. They also can be to simply say you care, or to share a short story about themselves or a loved one.

On January 30th, you were honored with the “WLF Jackie Lee Houston Heart of Gold Award” at the Women Leadership Forum of the Coachella Valley’s 3rd annual Women Who Rule Awards Luncheon and Scholarship Fundraiser. Congratulations! How do you view your contributions to the Palm Springs community?

Thank you, Kate! I was very honored to receive the Heart of Gold Award and as I said in my speech, there are many, many people that are a part of BAM.  We are a team, that’s for sure!  As far as contributions go, I think that because of my direct experience with Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center, I have seen first hand what is needed.  I have been able to connect with the doctors, nurses, the Eisenhower Foundation and many others that help guide us.  Our contributions come in many forms—from state of the art diagnostic and treatment equipment to simple things like a robe to put on while waiting to get radiation (that was one of the very first items we supplied) to patient services such as transportation for those who need help getting to and from their chemotherapy and radiation.  We also support the Pendleton Foundation—a wonderful group that helps cancer patients here in the Valley with every day living expenses such as gas cards, food cards, utilities, and rent, financial burdens that can get in the way of healing.  BAM is a community endeavor and we are so excited about things to come!

Describe a favorite day spent in Palm Springs.

There are so many perfect days in the Palm Springs area!  I don’t think I could put it into one day! Let’s see, the weather is what I like most of all, and then of course there’s golf, hiking, swimming, tennis, walking, shopping…there are so many shops to choose from! Dining—we have some of the best restaurants here in the Valley, the art galleries, spas…the list is endless and I feel so very lucky to live here!

About Kate Buckley

Kate Buckley is a brand strategist, premium domain broker and consultant, interviewer, storyteller, visual artist, and award-winning poet & writer. She’s worked in media and marketing since 1997, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and is the author of A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press) and Follow Me Down (Tebot Bach). A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her awards include a Gabeheart Prize and the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize. She was most recently shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. A ninth-generation Kentuckian, she’s made her home in Southern California since 1998.

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