Pink Duluth bridge tonight draws attention to cancer fightToday at dusk, the Aerial Lift Bridge will be awash in a pink glow, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The pink might make you blink.
Today at dusk, the Aerial Lift Bridge will be awash in a pink glow, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
It’s to call attention to the fight against breast cancer in advance of Saturday’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” 5K walk at Lake Superior College.
Colorful displays are an increasingly popular way to draw attention in efforts to raise money and overcome deadly diseases. In early February, the Fitger’s smokestack was bathed in red light as part of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign. On Sunday, the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis took on purple lighting for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
But the attention-getting display is only a prelude for the Making Strides event, in its 20th year nationally and its third in Duluth.
“Each person who’s walking in our event, there’s a reason behind each one,” said Monica Hendrickson, marketing manager at Maurices and a board member of the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society. “People are so passionate. It just becomes engrained. It’s so personal.”
In the first two years, a combined total of about 1,000 people participated and raised nearly $70,000, said Kathi Di Nicola, public relations director for the American Cancer Society Midwest Division.
Hendrickson’s passion is stirred by a personal story. A form of cancer took the life of her husband’s nephew when he was just 17. She empathizes with other people she knows who deal with cancer.
“It’s a personal fight,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve had a lot of friends and co-workers who are battling it. And it makes you very angry. You hear what they’re going through, and it’s ungodly.”
She’s also involved because of her role with Maurices. The Duluth-based retailer has been active corporately in the fight against breast cancer.
That includes this month’s “Shop Pink Give Hope” campaign in 177 Maurices stores and online. During the month, 50 percent of the sales price of select items — all with at least a touch of pink — will be contributed to the American Cancer Society. Hendrickson said the company hopes to raise between $400,000 and $500,000.
The emphasis makes sense for Maurices, which has a target market of females in their teens and 20s and a predominantly female work force, Hendrickson said. At its home office in Duluth, the company offers occasional “mammogram days,” in which it provides cab service to and from Essentia Health for employees wanting to get mammograms.
“They’ve put their money where their mouth is,” Di Nicola said.
Breast cancer is the second-most-deadly form of cancer for women in Minnesota, Di Nicola said. One of every two women diagnosed with cancer reaches out to the American Cancer Society for help and support.
The nonprofit staffs its toll-free number, (800) 227-2345, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Di Nicola said, so that someone who wakes up in the middle of the night with questions about their cancer doesn’t have to wait until business hours to get an answer. The organization provides support programs, transportation and wigs for patients dealing with chemotherapy.
In Minneapolis, Rochester and other cities it has Hope Lodges, where patients and caregivers can stay at no charge while being treated for cancer away from home. Hendrickson said a friend of hers stayed eight months in a Hope Lodge.
The Cancer Society also is second behind only the U.S. government in spending for cancer research, Di Nicola said.
Making Strides is a way to raise some of the money for all of that, Di Nicola said. But for participants, there’s much more to it than that.
“It’s a visceral experience,” she said. “It’s emotional. It’s supportive. It’s celebrative, in a way.”