Photographs: Sunflower, vvvita – stock.adobe.com; others, contributed
THE BREAST CANCER ALLIANCE is a small but mighty organization that has not only been funding groundbreaking research that is very much changing the way we treat and diagnose the disease, it has also been PROVIDING LIFE-SAVING TREATMENT AND CARE TO UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
The nonprofit’s pink-themed events are known for being engaging, fun and meaningful. The fashion show at Westchester Country Club features luxe designer fashions and an inspiring collection of runway models: breast cancer survivors with moving stories who take their well-deserved turn on the catwalk, for example.
Perhaps the best reason to mark these events on your calendar is the impact the Greenwich-based nonprofit’s philanthropy is having on its lofty goal of eradicating breast cancer. Since its founding twenty-seven years ago, BCA has morphed into a still small but mighty nonprofit that targets the strategic funding of promising research and breast surgery fellowships, while maintaining sturdy community roots by helping women access life-saving cancer screening and treatment.
“We really started Go for Pink as an initiative to engage local businesses and restaurants in our efforts and encourage people to use some of the services this fundraising pays for, but as BCA grew we have been able to do so much more,” explains BCA’s longtime Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker.
How much of an impact does Go for Pink have? “Well, in complete candor, that depends on how much we raise in any given year,” says Wattenmaker. “But from a community standpoint alone, there’s so much we can do from a successful event.”
Take the $350,000 that BCA raised last year at Go for Pink events held in Greenwich and beyond. If this year is as successful, Wattenmaker explains, that kind of gross profit could fund two BCA sponsored research grants that might lead to new disease treatments and cures. The money could also pay for a fellowship for a promising physician interested in learning state-of-the-art approaches to breast cancer surgery. And it could support as many as ten community outreach grants to Connecticut hospitals to support initiatives such as free mammograms.
“We hear stories all the time of women who got mammograms or ultrasounds because of our outreach programs that they would not have had without the screenings and care we support,” says Wattenmaker.
In recent years, BCA has taken its Go for Pink efforts on the road. It’s hosting special events this fall in South Florida, New York and Boston in an effort to elevate its profile and impact, while raising funds and community awareness. Back-to-back events in Miami and Palm Beach are targeted at raising disease awareness in the region’s sizable Hispanic demographic.
“Hispanic women tend to have lower rates of the disease than white and African American women, but their mortality rates are higher,” Wattenmaker explains. “The message we want to share there is that early detection is really important. Not having a family history of breast cancer does not change the need to be vigilant.”
Still, Wattenmaker adds that fundraising in new destinations doesn’t deter from the fact “that our roots have always been local and will remain that way.”
“When you eat at a restaurant that’s supporting us, or shop with a retailer who has joined this effort, there is really a multiplier effect in what you’re doing,” says Wattenmaker. “It elevates what we’re able to do and, I don’t say this lightly, it’s truly saving lives.”
Going Pink for the Cure: Events Taking Place Around Town and Beyond
New York City Wellness Luncheon:
Monday, October 2
Join BCA for a luncheon, panel discussion and shopping at The Harmonie Club. Breast cancer survivor Anne Thompson, NBC news chief environmental affairs correspondent, will speak along with panelists including Dr. Elisa Port, chief of breast surgery for Mount Sinai Health System, and fellow breast cancer survivor Eli Choo, clinical nutrition coordinator at Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center.
GO FOR PINK:
Wednesday, October 4 through Sunday, October 8
Every October, BCA partners with retailers, restaurants and supporters across the country to raise breast cancer awareness near and far. Locally you can combine shopping with philanthropy by supporting BCA’s Greenwich partners including Alice + Olivia, Ba&sh, Jenni Kayne, La Ligne, LoveShackFancy, Roller Rabbit, Veronica Beard, Vince and more.
BCA Flag Raising:
Friday, October 6 at 9:30 a.m., Greenwich Town Hall
After hoisting a flag in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BCA will host a discussion: “What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer.” Featured experts include Greenwich Hospital breast surgeons Dr. Barbara Ward and Dr. Alyssa Gillego and Bridgeport Hospital’s Dr. Monica Valero, director of the Yale Hispanic Breast Cancer Program. The program will also include a testimonial from a Greenwich Hospital patient whose breast cancer was discovered by a BCA-supported mammogram.