Pechanga provides $250,000 for Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center

Patrick Murphy, Andrew Masiel, Jared Munoa and Shawn Patton of the Pechanga Development Corporation; Robyn Delfino, Pechanga tribal secretary and Marc Luker of the Pechanga tribal council stand with Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center founders Bill and Marilyn Watson, Michelle’s parents following the Pechanga Charity Golf Classic, May 1-2, with Michael Vasquez, Pechanga tribal councilman; Kim Gerrish, Michelle’s Place executive director; RJ Munoa of Pechanga tribal councilman; Mark Macarro, Pechanga tribal chairman, Russell B. Murphy, Pechanga tribal council; Catalina Chacon, Pechanga tribal council; Louise Burke, Pechanga tribal council, and Ken Perez, Pechanga Development Corporation. Courtesy photo

PECHANGA – Pechanga Resort Casino hosted one of the region’s largest charitable events Wednesday and Thursday, May 1-2, with the return of the Pechanga Charity Golf Classic to the championship Journey at Pechanga golf course.

Celebrating its 21st year of bringing together tribal government and Indian gaming industry leaders who love spending a day on the course while helping those in need, the event has raised more than $1.4 million for a variety of essential nonprofits throughout the Temecula Valley. This year’s sole beneficiary was Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center, which received $125,000 from the popular event. To further assist Michelle’s Place in reaching their goal, the Pechanga Tribal Council matched the funds raised through the golf tournament, bringing Pechanga’s total donation to $250,000.

The two-day event has grown into one of the most popular charity golf tournaments in the region and has become a must-play event for more than 300 golfers from throughout California.

This year, Michelle’s Place has gone from providing services to those only battling breast cancer, to helping patients and families facing all types of cancer. To accommodate their expanded vision and program, they are expanding their footprint with the purchase of a new building.

“Pechanga is proud to support Michelle’s Place as they expand their much-needed services in our community,” Mark Macarro, Pechanga tribal chairman, said. “We’ve all been impacted by cancer in one way or another. This expansion will provide community members in need more access to the help they require to fight this disease. That’s something that Pechanga is honored to stand behind.”

“Pechanga has a proud history of supporting nonprofit organizations that are making significant strides to better the lives of others in our community and the surrounding region,” Jared Munoa, president of Pechanga Development Corporation, said. “The amazing participation of our players in this year’s event carries that tradition on by supporting free programs, seminars, support groups and services for those battling cancer, so they do not have to navigate their difficult journey alone.”

“Honestly, we couldn’t do it without Pechanga’s support in building the Cancer Center,” Kim Gerrish, executive director for Michelle’s Place, said. “It’s the biggest contribution we’ve ever had. I’ve been there 15 years, and it brings tears to my eyes to think that Pechanga is wrapping their arms around us, saying we support you and we believe in you.”

Michelle’s Place began as the dying wish of Michelle Watson, a Temecula resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer. After becoming frustrated with the lack of local resources available to her while undergoing treatment, she imagined a place where she could receive emotional comfort along with the latest information regarding the disease, its treatment options, coping strategies, updated research and clinical developments to help cancer patients and their families make informed decisions. Michelle died from the disease in 2000 at the age of 26, but today, the place she envisioned – Michelle’s Place – provides more than 10,000 free services a year to individuals and families impacted by cancer.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe that has called the Temecula Valley home since time immemorial.  After years of hardship and mistreatment by settlers, the Pechanga Indian Reservation was established by presidential executive order in 1882, affirming the tribe’s sovereign rights and land-base. The Pechanga Band directly employs over 5,000 people and owns and operates the award-winning Pechanga Resort Casino, the largest gaming facility in the western United States.

Submitted by Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.