UW Today

September 13, 2011

Teen CEO provides stylish support for ovarian cancer research

Greer Gates (center, seated) is all smiles, flanked by KOMO News' Neil Ikeda and Michelle Esteban, and UW Medicine's Liz Swisher.

Greer Gates (center, seated) is all smiles, flanked by KOMO NewsOlena Nyzhnykevych

She launched her business seven years ago to support a close family friend, Nancy Burhman Balduf, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  With the help of family and friends, the project has expanded and is now a registered charity, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to fund cancer research at the UW Medical Center.  Balduf, who was treated at UWMC, died in January 2010 from complications associated with her battle against ovarian cancer.

Gates has now raised more than $21,000.  That equates will the production of, well, one million necklaces and bracelets, she said. “Its a lot of selling in the rain and in the heat.”  The charity dollars support Elizabeth Swisher, whose work focuses on the use of genetic knowledge for the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer patients. Swisher is a UW associate professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“Isnt she amazing?” said Swisher, when asked about Gates accomplishments to date.  “Shes making an important contribution and its really inspirational.  Its like a seed or a ripple in the pool, because more people will now hear about ovarian cancer research.”

Gates goal is to help find and fund a cure for ovarian cancer, a lofty goal for someone so young.  After the KOMO segment aired, she received orders totaling $1,200, and plans are in the works for her to hold two trunk shows at the UW Medical Center gift shop.

“Lab research is a slow process,” said Swisher.  “Gratification is delayed, but people like Greer and my patients keep me going.”

Visit Gates’ Jewels of Hope website to learn more about her work. Her Etsy page is linked via Services on the site.