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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Coldwater Creek in Race for Cure

Coldwater Creek is a business success thanks to women, and the fashion retailer wants to focus its good works in the same direction.

The popular clothes company based in Sandpoint became a national sponsor last month of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Coldwater Creek joins American Airlines, Ford Division, Kellogg’s, New Balance and Silk Soymilk as the financial backbone of the nationwide road race that raises money for breast cancer education, prevention and research.

“This seemed to be a real fit for our company,” said Ann Johnson, Coldwater Creek’s retail marketing coordinator. Johnson coordinates Komen race involvement among Coldwater’s 135 retail stores across the nation. “Our customer base is 35- to 60-year-old women, the same ones affected by breast cancer. It’s a natural partnership.”

Coldwater Creek won’t disclose the financial commitment it has taken on as a race sponsor, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation was unable to find the amount on Monday. However, both agree a sizeable contribution is required.

Coldwater Creek enters the agreement in good financial health. The company that specializes in clothing for professional women had net sales of $590 million in 2004, employed 4,000 workers and mailed 108 million catalogues.

As a sponsor, Coldwater Creek commits to educating its workers about breast cancer. It encourages workers to participate in the Race for the Cure in their areas by paying their entry fees, Johnson said. Coldwater exhibits its products in a booth at each race.

At the few races already run this year, the company started Fashion for the Cure in stores at each race site near race day. Fashion for the Cure is a two-hour after-hours sale at which breast cancer educators and survivors speak with shoppers. The sale is open to the public. Ten percent of the money raised goes to the local Komen affiliate, Johnson said.

Coldwater also began a new line of T-shirts, tank tops, visors and warm-up suits – the In Pink collection – imprinted with the pink ribbon that represents the fight against breast cancer. Ten percent from the sale of In Pink items will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Johnson said.

The Coeur d’Alene Komen affiliate is overjoyed at Coldwater’s sponsorship. Coldwater has sponsored the Coeur d’Alene race each September since it began in 1999.

“It’s very exciting. We’re very proud,” said Jen Neely, president of the Coeur d’Alene Komen affiliate. “They’re on every shirt. They have a huge spread in the catalogue that says a certain percentage goes to cancer research. They’ll reach a different audience.”

About 1,500 runners and walkers participated in Coeur d’Alene’s first Race for the Cure. Last year, the number of participants had grown to 2,200, and 180 volunteers helped organize the 5-K race. Seventy-five percent of the money raised at any Race for the Cure stays local. Coeur d’Alene’s race has pumped $350,000 into breast cancer education and prevention in the five northern counties, said Marcy Horner, one of the affiliate’s volunteers.

Some of that money enabled 350 low-income and/or uninsured women to have mammograms through the Panhandle Health District last year and will do the same this year, Horner said. Last year’s mammograms showed eight active tumors, she said. Race money also went to the Boundary Community Hospital in Bonners Ferry to educate Hispanic women, the Kootenai Tribe and schoolgirls about breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 900 new cases of breast cancer appear in Idaho each year and about 200 people – nearly all women – die from it each year.