Three years ago, as her husband lay near death in a medically induced coma at Mount Carmel West Hospital, Cynthia Kazalia made a promise.
"All I could do was sit by his bedside. I was numb," she said.
"I told God that regardless whether John lived or died, I would find a way to use this experience to help other people who may be going through difficult times," the Grove City native said.
John survived the bout of flu that led to triple pneumonia, respiratory failure and his body's organs beginning to shut down.
One year later, Kazalia had her own health crisis when doctors in the Grove City Mount Carmel emergency room told her she had multiple blood clots in both lungs.
Her experience, coming so soon after her husband's illness, only reinforced her determination, Kazalia said.
The end result was "Sacred Women: Celebrating Courage, Survival and Transformation."
The second annual event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Grove City United Methodist Church, 2684 Columbus St.
This year's honorees will include:
* Bev Babbert, who has been a community leader in local efforts of drug abuse prevention and awareness.
* Cindi Gremling, founder of Hazel's House of Hope.
* Audry, Phyllis and Tiffany Hardy, founders of the Hope Healing House Foundation.
* Carly Mesnick, program manager for Mount Carmel Health's Crime & Trauma Assistance Program.
"These are all ordinary people who have chosen to use their gifts in extraordinary ways," Kazalia said. "They really demonstrate what good you can do if you align yourself with a higher purpose."
Last year's honorees were all women, but this year's event includes one man, Audry Hardy, among the guests of honor.
"We'll have to probably change the name going forward," Kazalia said.
The honorees were selected by a planning committee, she said.
Grove City Town Center president Andy Furr serves on the committee with his wife, Mary.
"This is such a wonderful effort. We're so happy to be part of it," Furr said. "Cynthia has created a fantastic way to recognize people who are making a big difference in our community."
The added benefit of supporting the Mount Carmel Foundation makes the Sacred Women event even more significant, he said.
"This isn't a one-woman effort. I really play a small role," Kazalia said. "It's a community effort supported by our planning committee and a lot of wonderful volunteers."
The evening benefits the Mount Carmel Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
"I wanted the event to benefit my hometown," Kazalia said. "It's likely neither John or myself would be here today if it wasn't for the attention and dedication of the people at Mount Carmel. The doctors in an emergency room can't have an 'off day.' It was their extra effort to look beyond the apparent symptoms that helped save our lives."
The May 9 event will include special music provided by Ellen Tate and the Grove City Chamber Singers. A reception will be held immediately following the ceremony.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. They can be purchased at sacred-women-of-grove-city.ticketleap.com/2017.
Anyone with questions or who wants to pay with a check should email Kazalia at email@example.com.
Bracelets also will be sold at the event for $25, with proceeds also going to the Mount Carmel Foundation, Kazalia said.
The underlying message behind the Sacred Women event is simple, she said.
"We should all appreciate that every day we have on this earth is a gift," Kazalia said. "If you live long enough, you're going to have to face some challenges. They may be small challenges, or they may be large ones.
"If you have a challenge, remember, you will get through it; you will survive. You are not alone.
"There's a lot of divisiveness in the world today," she said. "We need to do more to come together and unite and love and help one another.
"That's what our honorees demonstrate in the good work they do," Kazalia said.