Paint the Town Pink supports local breast cancer patients
The volunteer organizers of the nonprofit Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project hope individuals and businesses will join en masse this month to give local breast cancer patients and survivors a big, pink, group hug.
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the local nonprofit called Paint the Town Pink, which many recognize by the original name The Bust of Steamboat, is in its 22nd year of raising money for women in Routt and Moffat counties fighting breast cancer.
“The Bust of Steamboat is taking our cause to the streets to spread awareness and raise funds on a communitywide basis. Individuals and businesses can promote this year’s theme of ‘The Power of Pink’ by hosting events and fundraisers all month long,” said project founder Deb Curd-Kinnecom. “We’re asking our community to show the same strength, courage and support that breast cancer survivors show every day of their fight.”
According to the UCHealth Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center in Steamboat Springs, 38 area women were diagnosed with breast cancer during 2020, including 23 in Routt County, six in Moffat County and nine from other local counties. Last year, the center performed 2,588 mammograms as well as 187 screening ultrasounds for women with dense breast tissue.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, project organizers shifted the focus from one large community event and auction to current Paint the Town Pink events that can be organized in-house by any group or business to help fund and raise awareness about the importance of screenings and early detection of breast cancer that will affect one in eight women in America. Last year the nonprofit raised $43,500, and this year’s theme of The Power of Pink has a fundraising goal of $50,000, Kinnecom said.
The funds support local women for everything from expenses for traveling out of town for radiation treatments, to patient wigs, to reimbursements for child care while women are recovering. Underinsured or uninsured patients in need can apply for help to have mammogram screenings or pay for costs not covered by high insurance deductibles for follow-up tests and treatments such as screening ultrasounds or biopsies.
Kinnecom said the creative ways to support the cause can vary widely, from donations collected all month at the Yoga Center of Steamboat, to a group of women getting together to walk and donate pledges per mile, to restaurants who donate proceeds from special pink drinks. For example, the six locations at Rex’s Family of Restaurants will donate $5 per drink for specials ranging from a Frutilla Margarita at Salt & Lime, to Pink Lady at Creekside Cafe and Grill, to Strawberry Custard Shake at Big House Burgers.
Individuals can also donate funds directly or find information about other local fundraisers at TheBustofSteamboat.org.
At UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center this month, proceeds from a Strawberry Sunrise pink smoothie at Yampa Joe’s snack shop will be donated to the nonprofit project. On Oct. 25, the medical center cafeteria will transform to a pink menu, including pink cookies. YVMC Communications Specialist Lindsey Reznicek said staff are encouraged to wear pink throughout the month including pink clothing, socks, surgical bonnets and ribbons.
“This represents all of us in the community ultimately painting the town pink with ribbons, pink store fronts, fundraisers in individual locations, all going toward the power of pink to raise awareness of breast cancer and early detection as well as raise funds for local women who are going through their fight,” Kinnecom said. “We do what we can and turn around and give it out all year to women who need help.”
Other members of the nonprofit’s all-volunteer board include Jan Fritz, Marlene Fischer, Michael Kinnecom, Bonnie Madderom, Nancy Paul and Tibby Speare.
“Every single one of us had been touched by breast cancer in a way, either as a survivor or have lost someone close to us or had friends diagnosed,” Kinnecom said of the board.
Kinnecom said the needs of and gratitude from local women are obvious.
“Just this week, we received two requests from local women who are in need of MRIs for more detailed diagnostic screenings,” Kinnecom said. “Over the summer, we received several thank you notes from local women we helped who were undergoing breast cancer treatment. The notes had similar messages of how the unexpected assistance made such a positive impact on their well-being and the realization that someone cared about their recovery.”
For questions about the awareness and fundraising project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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Only nine years ago, genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer risks focused on two well-known genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2.