The 20th Anniversary of Think Pink
● By Kendra Kaiserman
Power of Pink
By Kendra Kaiserman
Photos by Jen Womack
Pink everything. Bags, balloons, t-shirts, flowers, ribbons. Even the Sundial Bridge is lit up pink. All this and more will take place on Think Pink Day, which is Oct. 20 this year, and fittingly so, since it is Nor-Cal Think Pink’s 20th anniversary.
“In 1996, Melody Christenson, Dr. Michael Figueroa and Carol Lake decided that they wanted to spread awareness better throughout the North State on the early detection of breast cancer,” says Nor-Cal Think Pink Board President Erika Wiechman. “Our area was really lacking in the early education aspect, so they came up with this idea to hand out educational bags.”
The trio handed out 500 bags, not knowing what it would become. Today, volunteers will pass out eight times as many bags as when they started 20 years ago.
“I wanted to know how we got to 40,000 bags, so I went through binder by binder, year by year, and figured out how many bags we did each year,” Wiechman says. “Our grand total, as of Think Pink Day this year, we will have handed out 568,500 bags. It was amazing. I knew it had been a lot, but it was more than I could have even imagined.”
More than 14,000 of the 40,000 bags will be handed out in 35 outreach areas, which encompass Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Siskiyou, Humboldt, Modoc and Plumas counties. The remaining bags will be handed out in Redding, beginning at 6 am, at two locations in the form of a drive-through: KIXE on North Market Street and the post office on Churn Creek Road. The bags include a special 20th anniversary edition breast health calendar, shower card, pen, window cling and other breast health resource materials. Later in the day is the lighting of the Sundial Bridge, which takes place from 5:30 to 8 pm. This free, family-friendly event will include health booths, live music, food vendors and medical professional and survivor speakers, all under the pink lights of the Sundial Bridge.
This past March marked a huge milestone for Think Pink. On Saturday, March 12, at the Red Lion Hotel at 7 pm, Think Pink held its first formal fundraiser: the Pretty in Pink Prom. About 200 people dressed to the nines and enjoyed appetizers, live music and raffle prizes. “People showed up before 7 and stayed until the DJ cut them off. It was crazy,” says Think Pink President-Elect Renee Gunlogson.
Along with honoring breast cancer survivors and the volunteers that helped with the event, Think Pink launched its Beyond the Bag campaign that night.
“In the past, we’ve always been about Think Pink Day—everything we’ve worked on was always leading up to Think Pink Day—collecting sponsors, getting the educational materials, handing out the bags and then we light the Sundial Bridge pink that evening,” says Wiechman. “We’re still doing all of that, but we thought after 20 years, it was time to make it more year-round. Our way of doing that was launching Beyond the Bag.”
This new initiative involves “trying to do things throughout the year versus doing everything in October,” Gunlogson says, including holding workshops and hosting educational booths at community events.
Think Pink has already hosted two booths, one at United Way’s Day of Action at Shasta College on June 21 and another at the Redding Rancheria Health Fair on August 3. The purpose of these booths is “getting more of a one-on-one with women,” says Wiechman. “We have breast health models who are showing women how to do breast health exams, because when they do it properly, they have a higher chance of finding it early, which then equals the 98 percent cure rate. That’s our ultimate goal, to catch it early.”
The first workshop was Sept. 14 at Shasta Community Health Center.
“What we’re trying to do is just get the word out about breast health,” board member Pam Ward says. “We’re giving them some facts about how important it is to start your mammograms at 40, if there’s a family history to start it sooner than that, doing breast self-exams starting at 20 and seeing your doctor every year. And I’m going to be teaching how to do a self breast exam.”
There are many ways to be a part of Think Pink Day—handing out bags, helping with set up and tear down of the Sundial Bridge lighting event, making a donation or purchasing Think Pink gear to wear. To help or donate, email [email protected] “Anything to further reach women with our important message that early detection saves lives is always our goal,” says Gunlogson.
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