October 19, 2010 in Features

Homegrown fundraising harnesses power of pink

Leanne Italie Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Parker Salinas, 10, wears can tab bracelets that she makes and sells to help raise money for breast cancer research in Roswell, Ga.
(Full-size photo)

Ten-year-old Parker Salinas considers herself one lucky little girl and a lifelong believer in the power of pink.

Mom Jules was diagnosed two years ago with breast cancer, enduring weeks of radiation, chemotherapy and, finally, a double mastectomy that saved her life.

Parker – the oldest of three kids – begged to get involved in the search for a cure and got busy making and selling bracelets from soda can pull tabs.

Her total: 600 bracelets and $600 to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“I’m doing something fun but I’m also doing something to help another family, or somebody else,” says the fourth-grader from suburban Atlanta. “It was the thought of helping others to feel better and not die from it.”

People like Parker are trying to push back the most common form of cancer in women in their own homegrown ways – from two teachers who putt-putted more than 2,700 miles on scooters in “Dumb and Dumber” getups to a Minnesota family’s cookbook that raised $30,000.

Many do it year-round with help from a bump in online giving and the rise of Facebook. Others find shorter-term projects to take advantage of October’s designation as breast cancer awareness month, when bubblegum pink takes center stage during walks, corporate drives and the sale of special products that raise millions for research, education and support for patients.

“Finding a good give-back project is like finding that perfect pair of jeans,” said Christy Eichers, who nearly lost her mother, Joan, to the disease.

Eichers hit on her “Mixing Up Memories” cookbook idea while driving one day in Minneapolis two years ago, listening to the “Wicked” tune “Defying Gravity”: “Some things I cannot change/ But ‘til I try, I’ll never know!”

She embellished each comfort, party-pleasing recipe (Cowboy Salsa, Annie’s Cajun Yams) with its distinct family history.

“My mom said, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re not going to have any family secrets left,’ ” Eichers said.

Like Parker and Eichers, Carter Hoff’s mom is a breast cancer survivor. Hoff’s good friend Alan Landers has survivors in his family, too.

Both men were teachers on a U.S. military base in the Azores in Portugal when they decided on their scooter ride across the United States in late June.

“We decided we could be just two guys on scooters or we could do it wearing the orange and blue tuxedoes from ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ ” Hoff says. “We had canes, too, but we lost them in Pennsylvania.”

Averaging about 300 miles a day at 60 mph or slower, it took them 16 days to go Washington to Washington and raise about $4,300.

“We went for the everyday, grassroots people you meet on the street,” Hoff said. “A few dollars here, a few dollars there could add up and make a big difference.”

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