“If you’re passionate about a cause and want to help, there’s a lot you can do to make a difference,” says Brent Carstensen, a dedicated supporter of breast cancer causes who co-founded Tasting Stars with Charles Edward Stanfield nearly 20 years ago. All proceeds from the annual champagne benefit support A Silver Lining Foundation (ASLF), a nonprofit organization focused on improving accessibility of breast cancer screenings in the Chicagoland area.
Regular breast health monitoring is crucial for detecting breast cancer as early as possible. Consistent screenings can result in earlier treatment and better outcomes for those diagnosed. Unfortunately, many individuals face challenges accessing these essential services. ASLF works to address these issues by facilitating cost-free mammograms and other breast health services for those who may not otherwise utilize them.
Carstensen and Stanfield co-founded Tasting Stars in 2003 after a chance meeting uncovered their mutual interests in champagne and supporting breast cancer causes. Tasting Stars was born as an event to combine these interests and make a difference in the breast cancer community. To date, Tasting Stars has raised more than $710,000 to benefit ASLF in their efforts to make breast screenings more accessible for uninsured, underinsured and undocumented individuals.
The 19th annual Tasting Stars event on June 19 highlighted ASLF’s important work and raised funds to support its mission. The French-themed, livestreamed event celebrated all things champagne, and attendees were able to preorder a curated Taste of Paris menu to enjoy from home while tuning in and supporting the cause. The evening was complete with jazz music and “Charles Talks Champagne” interludes to share wine expertise in addition to a bottle sabering demonstration from Stanfield.
ASLF’s CEO and founder Dr. Sandy Goldberg gave a heartfelt talk sharing the foundation’s history and mission and how its services have become all the more important in the current medical and economic landscape. With many individuals losing their health insurance coverage due to job loss during the pandemic, the foundation now supports a new category: the newly uninsured.
The need is greater now than ever to ensure that individuals receive crucial imaging and diagnostic services. Imagine, for example, that you just received an abnormal mammogram result and have been scheduled for a biopsy. What if you then lose your job—and your insurance coverage along with it—the week of your scheduled procedure? With ASLF’s additional focus of supporting the newly uninsured, the hope is to prevent delays and cancellations of these services and to ultimately save more lives.
Goldberg shared her own experience with breast cancer, saying that she felt privileged because she had access to everything she needed. On the other hand, she learned that many others were not so fortunate in having their health care needs addressed. ASLF addresses a critical need for improved access to breast health services. Goldberg emphasized these accessibility challenges and explained that ASLF strives to ensure that no one goes unrecognized. “Everyone deserves a chance to survive,” she said.
Throughout the evening, messages from the seven host couples in the “Tasting Stars family” thanked attendees for their support. Over the years, the event has grown from a small 40-person gathering to an elegant evening bringing together hundreds of guests to support ASLF’s ever-essential mission. With plans to return to an in-person format for next year’s 20th edition of Tasting Stars, Carstensen looks forward to continuing the tradition of supporting this important cause.