A Look Back at Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Austin Thinks Pink

By Elizabeth Franey The month of October brought many things – cooler weather, autumn leaves, pumpkin patches – but more importantly, it was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and an opportunity to raise awareness and funds to help bring us closer to a diagnosis and cure.

Throughout the nation, public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies all worked together to "promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to service,” according to the mission statement on the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month’s website.

In Austin, many stores, restaurants, businesses and individuals also joined in the October fight against breast cancer by offering specials and hosting events that benefited research and foundations.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Sullivan’s Steakhouse offered a “Pink Menu” that allowed diners to receive a 3-course meal, complete with a starter, an entrée and dessert for $39.95.  Five dollars from every guest who purchased from the Pink Menu were donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

With about 20 locations nationwide, Sullivan’s Steakhouse was able to raise $175,000, according to General Manager Jennifer Hazard. Employees strove to get each guest involved.  The Pink Menu was offered to each guest, posters were hung throughout the restaurant promoting the offer and the wait staff wore pink accessories for the entire month.  “Many people in the company are involved with the NBCF, so employees wanted to ensure that guests know all about this opportunity.  Not only do we want to raise awareness about breast cancer, but we wanted to offer guests an easy way to make a difference,” Hazard says.

Opal Divine’s

Opal Divine’s offered their 6th Annual Drink Pink Campaign, with proceeds directly benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Center.  Throughout the month, all locations offered a variety of pink cocktails, including pink margaritas, the Sweet Life Paloma, the Texas Red Martini and the Pinky Friedman. Depending on what size you ordered (a B cup, a C cup or a DD cup), a portion of the revenue was donated to the BCRC.

Owners Michael and Susan Parker say they got the idea for the Drink Pink Campaign after Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2009. Realizing that they could use the bar as a way to make money for breast cancer research, the Parkers have participated in several other fundraising activities over the years.

The Drink Pink Campaign, which kicked off on June 1, came to an end on Oct. 31, with the 10th Annual SKARAOKE benefit for BCRC.  The event was held at Opal Divine’s Freehouse location on West 6th Street from 7-10:30 p.m.  Prizes were given for best costume and song combo.

SCARE for a CURE

Jarrett and Norma Crippen had a passion for building haunted houses for Halloween.  When their spooky set-ups outgrew their backyard, they joined forces with some like-minded haunt-loving souls and decided to build a great event for a great cause and in 2007, SCARE for a CURE was born.

Over the past six years, SCARE for a CURE has provided a total of over $80,000 to the Breast Cancer Resource Center and other charities, Public Relations and Marketing director Becky Garcia says.

Together, SCARE for a CURE volunteers and BCRC volunteers worked together to create the premier non-profit haunted adventure in Central Texas. With an aim to make guests scream, run, cower crawl and try to figure out a way to get out for a good 45 minutes, volunteers “work hard to build an adventure that provides enjoyment and entertainment to all our attendees while raising money to help a great organization,” Garcia says.

Texas Mamma Jamma Ride

Breast cancer supporters were able to pedal toward a cure in the 4th Annual Texas Mamma Jamma Ride.  “Since its inaugural ride in 2009, the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride has raided more than $1.4 million, making it the most successful breast cancer ride in the country,” account executive Reid Schwartz says.

The Texas Mamma Jamma Ride aimed to involve the entire community, whether as a riser, volunteer or donor.  With five different route distances to choose from, ranging from 13 to 100 miles, the ride welcomed all levels of riders from beginners to seasoned cyclists.  Children 8 and up were welcome to join a parent who is also registered to ride, or participate in fun-filled activities such as zip-lining, treasure hunting and water gun fights at the Kids Jam while parents rode.

The charity bike ride raises funds for 10 local nonprofit agencies that provide services that help improve and save lives of thousands of central Texans diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

“Given that one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, the Texas Mamma Jamma organization hopes to spread their message supporting early detection and preventative care, and to spread awareness of the services available to help those in need,” Schwartz says.

“B3” Boobs, Brains and Boots Cancer Benefit

Cancer survivors Courtney Lasater and Adam Crockett teamed up this year to host the 1st Inaugural “B3” Boobs, Brains and Boots Cancer Benefit.  Lasater was diagnosed with breast cancer only two weeks before her 31st birthday in June 2011, and Crockett, who is currently enrolled in his second year of the University of Texas’ full time MBA program, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2007.

The even took place at Hill’s Café, where guests could enjoy food drinks and music from local Texas bands.  All revenue from tickets, T-shirt and koozie sales and a raffle directly benefited BCRC and the ACT Fund, the latter of which was started by Crockett to raise money and awareness for brain tumor research.

Lasater describes her experience with the BCRC as amazing. “They anticipate your needs and are there throughout the entire process,” she says. “They did everything in their power to make sure I didn’t have to go through cancer alone.

Lasater and Crockett are optimistic for B3's future.  “I hope that this is the infrastructure year where we continually build upon this years momentum,” Crockett says.  “Courtney did an incredible job getting this set up. I hope that she and I, as well as the people of Austin, can make this something special for many years to come.”