Are all the pink ribbons helping to cure cancer?

Published: Friday, Nov. 11 2011 9:41 p.m. MST

"I'm kind of opposite," Samowitz said. "I seek out products that have the breast cancer ribbons. I do seek out those products to help support it." For the Yoplait "Save Lids to Save Lives" campaign, 10 cents from each lid redeemed up to $2 million goes toward the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Going through numerous surgeries, radiation, and bouts of chemotherapy herself, Samowitz said she is willing to do anything she can to help raise awareness for breast cancer. She said she has convinced friends to get their mammograms early, and she recently ran the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

"I was able to walk the two miles," she said. "My husband was there. When I walked by him, it was the first time I wanted to cry because he was crying. There was a sea of pink shirts. It was a magnificent journey. It was all or more that I hoped for."

A spokeswoman for The Susan G. Komen Foundation, the largest breast cancer movement in the world, said their partnerships with Major League Baseball, the Dallas Cowboys, NASCAR and other professional sports have increased exposure and publicity about breast cancer.

"Our partnerships with professional athletic teams help us do a couple of things, raise awareness in the community and with the TV audience," said Director of Corporate Relations Carrie Glasscock. "They offer a public forum for celebrating breast cancer survivors."

The Foundation tries to offer a bucket list type of experience to some breast cancer survivors through their partnerships. For example, on Mother's Day, breast cancer survivors can be nominated to be bat girls for MLB games where the pink bats are used.

"I really think it is getting people involved in the breast cancer movement that is comfortable for them," Glasscock said. "So many people are passionate about professional sports and are also passionate about the fight against breast cancer."

The organization has made great strides, however the partnership with MLB brings in $100,000 per year, which sounds like a lot. But for a $1.2 billion industry, it seems like a small effort to produce bats every year used for one game that only generates a $100,000 donation that goes to breast cancer research.

Those looking to contribute to the cause can donate to local programs as well, like the Swing for Life tournament, which was started by a breast cancer survivor in Salt Lake City.

"We're all on the same team," said Kathy Howa, the founder of Swing for Life. "We're really doing something that's for the good of others."

Howa has been in remission for nine and a half years and as the head softball coach at Rowland Hall, she wanted to prevent other women from having to deal with the same disease. The Swing for Life organization began with pledges and grew every year until it was a tournament with other schools involved. Now it is a nationwide foundation with $738,000 racked up towards breast cancer research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"The only thing I have to pay out is for an accountant to do our taxes," Howa said. "Every profit goes straight to research, and not very many can say that."

Swing for Life has been able to keep costs so low because teams run the events themselves, and Jon Huntsman underwrites any expenses at the research hospital. The foundation has done so much that a new wing in the Huntsman Cancer Institute was named the Swing for Life Educational Room.

"We're all striving to do the best we can to find the cure," Howa said. "Everyone seems to be that way, and I really hope they focus on that."

EMAIL: sgambles@desnews.com

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