Everyone running in the 1991 New York Race for the Cure was handed a little pink ribbon from members of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. That was the first day the pink ribbon was used on a large scale as a symbol for breast cancer awareness, according to www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org.
The ribbons hit the general public when Alexandra Penney, then the editor in chief of Self Magazine, designed a ribbon — putting a lot of thought into what shade of pink — and enlisted Estee Lauder to put it on cosmetic counters across the country in 1992.
In the years since, the pink ribbon, and the color pink in general, has become iconic for breast cancer awareness.
Earlier this month, 5,600 people participated in Bangor’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, believed to have raised more than $300,000 for the cause.
About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. And about 39,840 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2010 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1991, according to www.breastcancer.org.
Treatment advances, early detection through screening and increased awareness are thought to be catalysts of the increasing survival rate. Though raising funds for cancer research is a year-round effort, October is the month devoted to the cause.
Several Maine businesses have used their creativity and the symbolic pink ribbon to transform their usual products into ones that promote awareness. And many donate a portion of their proceeds to research for a cure.
Ann Veronica Bags of Cape Elizabeth
“We have a print, and we run the promotion from time to time,” said storeowner Ann Perrino. “I just found out a friend was diagnosed with cancer, so we may be reintroducing it this fall for the month of October.”
Ten percent of the sales go to the Maine Cancer Foundation. You can buy a key chain for $6 or a tote bag for $100.
“Any of our products can be done in the Bravery Collection,” said Perrino.
The store also sells a breast cancer awareness charm bracelet glass bead made by Troll Beads of Denmark. The beads also are sold in stores such as the Grasshopper Shop and other boutiques. The proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
For information about the Bravery Collection, call 767-8181 or visit www.annveronica.com.
Bath soaps gift box
Appleton Basket Company of Appleton
Their Breast Cancer Awareness Gift Box is loaded with certified organic bath and body lotion and a spa soak. The heart-shaped box, tied with a pink ribbon, costs $35, $2 of which goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“We started our business about four years ago. We love giving back and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have charities attached to the baskets?’” said Kathy. “My mother died from breast cancer, so I wanted to somehow support the research and try and find the cure.”
She describes the products she selected for the basket as “pink, relaxing and calm.”
For information, call 975-4941 or visit www.appletonbasketcompany.com.
Lively Accents Handcrafted Jewelry of Norway
A matching breast cancer awareness bracelet and necklace, $29.95 each, are made with pink fiber optic beads, clear Swarovski crystals and sterling silver beads. A sterling silver awareness charm the shape of a looped ribbon adorns the center of both. Small dangle earrings, with either 14 karat gold or sterling silver awareness ribbons, are available for $14.95 and $16.95, respectively.
“A lot of people were asking for nice handcrafted [pieces] as opposed to the $100 ones on the Internet,” said Lively Accents owner Cathy Murphy. “I price them as low as I possibly can, and donate a portion of my profits to the American Cancer Society.”
For information, call 743-0360 or visit www.livelyaccents.com.
Maine Dog and Pony of Winslow
Natasha Rancourt has sold handmade dog collars since 2008 and creates a breast cancer awareness collar with pink ribbon print. The cost is $15.95, according to their website at www.mainedogandpony.com.
“We haven’t sold any in a while,” said Rancourt.
The material she has makes large or extra large dog collars.
“My mother had breast cancer and she’s now cancer free, and we lost my husband’s mother to breast cancer,” she said. “I would like to donate anything I sell to breast cancer foundations.”
She usually gives her collars to friends and family who have dealt with breast cancer, but is willing to make collars for those who call her at 660-5047. Visit her website at www.mainedogandpony.com.
Dog breed pins
Agatha and Louise of Portland
They combine canine love with cancer awareness by pairing dogs with pink ribbons in their Fetch for a Cure Dog Breed Pin, $24.95. They started selling the pins and also canvas tote bags devoted to breast cancer awareness three years ago.
“The woman who makes the pins is local,” said storeowner Persephone Cabaniss. “My husband’s mother passed away from breast cancer, and we thought we could donate for the cure.”
They are currently looking for a new tote bag supplier so that they can continue selling breast cancer awareness totes.
For information, visit www.agathaandlouise.com or call 800-775-9429 or 879-7297.
Handcrafted pink ribbon bags
Sea Bags of Portland
A leader in sustainable practices, Sea Bags launches its fourth annual Cure Campaign with their pink ribbon bags made from recycled sails. The bags are available Oct. 1-Dec. 31. They donate 50 percent of the proceeds from the sales of a limited number of the small, medium and large bags to the Maine Cancer Foundation.
“We are proud to have raised over $48,000 in funds over the past three years from this campaign for Maine Cancer Foundation. We’ve attracted buyers from across the globe to help the cause,” said Sea Bags co-owner and President Beth Shissler in a prepared statement. “With both of our families touched by cancer, my business partner, Hannah, and I wanted to do something to make a difference.”
For information, call 888-210-4244 or visit www.seabags.com.
Pink tulip bulbs
Pink Tulip Project of Portland
Founded in 2006 by breast cancer survivor Robin Whitten, the Pink Tulip Project raises money and awareness through pink tulip gardens throughout Maine. The project has raised more than $150,000 since its inception, 100 percent of which has been donated to the Women’s Cancer Fund at the Maine Cancer Foundation.
Bulbs are planted in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and bloom the following May.
The first official project garden was in Portland. Now more than 80 project gardens are planted each year. The 2011 season is under way, and 30,000 bulbs have been reserved for planting.
For information or to place an order, visit www.pinktulipproject.org or call Maine Cancer Foundation at 773-2533.