More than 450 people gathered recently for the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center's largest annual fundraiser, the Rose of Hope Luncheon.

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams was one of the main speakers, and awards were presented to two women for their support of the breast-care center, which is on Beach Road.

The event took place June 16 on the grounds of Patti and Tom Keegan's Bronson Road home. A spokesman said the amount of money raised by the luncheon still is being tabulated.

Part of the Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute at Bridgeport Hospital, the breast-care center has served more than 18,000 women since it was established in 1999.

Williams, a star of the television shows "Desperate Housewives" and "Ugly Betty," spoke about a close friend's battle with breast cancer and about overcoming personal and career setbacks in her own life, according to a news release from Bridgeport Hospital. She also had a health message for all women.

"My life lesson, my `aha' moment, was that women, even young ones, must be vigilant and take care of their breast health -- and please follow through with the treatment," Williams said.

She also told the gathering they were fortunate to have the breast-care center.

"You don't know how lucky you are to have a place to go where you can find everything you need for the care of breast cancer," Williams said. "The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center is always just around the corner."

Williams was introduced by Breast Care Center patient Natasha Jones of Bridgeport, a single mother and college student who spoke about her journey.

"Thanks to the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center, I'm here today," the news release quoted Jones as saying. "The center's caregivers took stress away from a stressful situation."

Jones said the center's staff found grants that paid for her utilities when she could not, and she singled out nurse Patricia Poniros for treating "the whole person."

Rose of Hope Awards were presented to two members of the center's President's Council -- Donna Craft of Easton and Lynne Taikowski of Fairfield -- for their support of the center, including their role as co-chairwomen of past Rose of Hope Luncheons.