Southern Tier HealthLink in Conjunction with Amaretto Ranch Breedables Raises Over $64,000

Southern Tier HealthLink (STHL), the Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) for the Southern Tier of New York in conjunction with Amaretto Ranch Breedables, has raised over US $64,000 for breast cancer research through its New York HealthScape Breast Cancer Awareness Center simulation (sim) in the virtual world of Second Life.  STHL on behalf of Amaretto Ranch Breedables will be presenting a check for the proceeds to the Southern Tier Regional Office of the American Cancer Society in the near future.

Created in 2003, Second Life is a computer-generated 3D world already home to millions of virtual residents, businesses, universities, non-profit, and health care organizations around the world. While the enhanced graphics and avatar features of Second Life give it a sophisticated game feeling, this actually augments its potential as an education tool. In fact, Second Life has generated serious academic research into the impact of virtual interactions and real life communications, team building, and education. Several studies have concluded that the simulated environment is highly effective for interactive learning.

One of STHLs primary roles as a RHIO is to bring together consumers, health care providers and facilities to improve health care quality, access, and safety; and to reduce overall associated costs by advancing health information technology. Because Second Life offers a low cost and far reaching opportunity to engage the health care consumer in a hands-on and compelling new setting, STHL has begun to tap its potential as an education and communication tool to help meet the community outreach goals of STHLs mission, including interacting with a Personal Health Record and Health Information Exchange. (

In support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, STHL created a virtual Breast Cancer Awareness Center sim represented by a brownstone in a conceptualized New York City Tribeca neighborhood. Within the sim, SL visitors are encouraged to discover breast cancer facts while exploring the brownstone and answering questions about breast cancer that help them build awareness and understanding of the disease.

At the suggestion of Avatar Tasia Tonic (Jeannie Inman, a the STHL Associate responsible for the building of the event), a company within Second Life, Amaretto Ranch Breedables (, created breedable pink horses for the residents of the virtual world to enjoy. The special edition horses were pink and white and were a limited edition only available from October 28th thru October 31st. These horses are collectables within Second Life and were actually purchased, in this case for a donation to the STHL Breast Cancer Awareness Center. Today STHL announced that on behalf of Amaretto Ranch Breedables, STHL will be donating $64,089.64 to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer awareness and research.

Josaphine Cooperstone of Amaretto Ranch Breedables said, In real life I was a Registered Nurse, and just like many other people I too have had cancer affect many people in my life so I was very happy to have the opportunity to help out a good cause. The Amaretto Horses have been received with great enthusiasm by a wonderful community, but we never imagined the outpouring from the community would be what it was. The stories they shared of their own battles or the battles family and friends had with cancer, were truly heartwarming.

Second Life avatar Kitty Otoole messaged, Guys, my best friend in real life, Dionne, died from breast cancer two years ago. It was horrendous, she battled so hard but that disease really took its toll on her. I introduced her to Second Life as a way she could socialize, and she loved it. It helped her meet people and interact until she couldn't use a PC anymore. Ironically, in RL she rode horses as a teen, and ever since the horses came into Second Life I've known she would adore them. Today, I've bought a BC horse for her...and called it Deedee, which was her name in Second Life.

Second Life resident Dorrie Bellman commented, You have touched many lives today with your support for such a worthy cause. Cancer touches all in some way, be it in memories or in those living and fighting the battle, all hold the hope that someday there will be a cure. Giving as you have done and allowing each of us to contribute through you is another step toward a cancer free life for all. Well done.

We are thrilled that so many people came to the site and demonstrated their passion for curing breast cancer with their purchases and donations. The work we did to build the site and educate the Second Life participants was very worthwhile, said Christina Galanis, Executive Director of STHL. We were particularly pleased that one of our real world software partners, InterComponentWare (or ICW, demonstrated their commitment to our efforts with a US $1,000 cash contribution.

Extending breast cancer awareness events to Second Life provides a great opportunity for those engaged within the virtual community to be connected with the real world fight against the disease, said Diana Cahill, Regional Vice President for the Southern NY Region of the American Cancer Society. Second Life volunteers passion for the cause mirrors that of the real world and demonstrates their commitment to the American Cancer Societys mission of creating a world with less breast cancer and more birthdays. We thank the STHL for their ingenuity and dedication in supporting this mission.

For images and comments from the SL Users visit

To visit the Breast Cancer Awareness Center in SL:
To create an avatar in Second Life (needed for viewing Breast Cancer Awareness Center):

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