Pink Fashion for a Passion
Writer / Kara Reibel
The Project Pink Fashion Show is the brainchild of Geist resident and Susan G. Komen Central Indiana® Operations Manager, Sarah Schmitz. It has quickly become one of the popular annual events for Komen Central Indiana. Project Pink is unique in that it utilizes the talents of the Beau Monde fashion students from The Art Institute of Indianapolis. Inspired by the “unconventional” challenge from the popular Lifetime TV show, Project Runway, students repurpose t-shirts from The Komen Central Indiana Race for the Cure® and incorporate them into hand-made fashions. These designs are then showcased by models at the Project Pink Fashion Show and later auctioned off to raise money for Komen Central Indiana.
Schmitz began working with Komen almost three years ago after having her first child. “I just love working here. It is so rewarding helping others, and our volunteer staff is incredible,” says Schmitz. Her proposal for a twist on the fashion show fundraiser was met with enthusiasm and this year celebrates the third year for the Project Pink event, held at the City Market. The concept behind her fundraising event is being replicated around the country at various sister affiliates. “I’m flattered that other affiliates are hosting similar events, since it is so much fun and a creative use for our leftover shirts,” states Schmitz.
Attending and supporting events such as Project Pink is one way to help Komen Central Indiana. Other major events include the Pink Tie Ball and, of course, the Central Indiana Race for the Cure, which kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness month by opening up registration October 1st! The staff and volunteers of Komen Central Indiana share a common thread: a pink ribbon. However, only one of the 4-member full-time staff at Komen Central Indiana has any family history of breast cancer. “We consider ourselves co-survivors, since we are in a supportive role with those women who have fought the fight. They all become our family and are the driving force behind us,” says Schmitz.
Everyone knows someone who’s life has been touched by breast cancer, you need not look far.
A common question posed to staff of Komen Central Indiana is: How can I help?
This past year $850,000 in grants were awarded, which serviced 60,000 individuals, resulting in 132 women diagnosed due to grant dollars. “Our staff are non-voting on the grant committee. We only oversee the grant reports. It is up to our 14-member committee to review applications and award funding to health service providers that service our area. We are very much a grass-roots effort,” says Wendy Noe, the Outreach & Grants Manager for Komen Central Indiana.
Events, such as the Race for the Cure, the Pink Tie Ball and the Project Pink Fashion Show, are major fundraisers for Komen Central Indiana. However, the individual fundraising efforts of volunteers and supporters makes up a great portion of funding for the local reach of Komen Central Indiana, which services 21 counties in the central Indiana region.
Many supporters hold golf outings, bake sales, athletic events that host pink-outs, and a variety of other private efforts to raise money for Komen Central Indiana are all greatly appreciated. Their website is a great resource with their events listed online.
With a staff of only 4 full-time employees, it is their team of volunteers that carries them on the mission for Komen Central Indiana: supporting local breast health programs that help ensure women in Central Indiana are getting the outreach, access to care, patient navigation, treatment assistance and survivor support services they need.
Volunteers are the foundation of Komen Central Indiana. It takes over 400 volunteers just to pull off the Race for the Cure. Komen Central Indiana utilizes their volunteers for all of their events. Many of these volunteers have been touched by breast cancer, but a surprising number have no family history and merely wish to help.
3: Sign up for The Central Indiana Race for the Cure
Many teams hold their own fundraising events while running/walking in the Race. This may be the most popular of all local efforts. Kelly Meyer, a teacher at Carmel, is the team captain for Faithful Friends. Faithful Friends is a team made up of friends, family and co-workers of hers. Kelly is a co-survivor with her mom, Ann Davis, and a dear friend, Patricia Viering, who passed away a few years ago. Kelly has been a team captain for the 18 years that her mom has been a survivor. (GO, MOM!). Her team raised over $45,000 last year overall. Wow!
Natalie Sutton, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Central Indiana, enthusiastically joined the team this past January. “It is our super-volunteers like Kelly Meyer, that overwhelm me with their efforts of love and kindness for a mission that they believe in as strongly as we do,” says Sutton. “What impressed me the most with Komen Central Indiana is the significant local impact we have for being affiliated with a national brand,” says Sutton, who joined the team this year in January. “We are very much a grass roots effort with 75% of our net fundraising dollars staying local, with the remaining 25% sent to Komen Global research.”
Wendy Noe, Outreach and Grants Manager for Komen Central Indiana, is the only staff member with extensive personal ties to breast cancer. “I believe I am the only one in the office with personal ties to breast cancer. I have family history on both sides of my family, so my twin sister and I are at risk,” says Noe. She adds, “the women we serve and those who volunteer become family to us, they are what drive us.” Noe handles corporate outreach in addition to overseeing the allocation of grants. “Our focus is to donate where the greatest need is, where we will have the biggest impact,” states Noe.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central Indiana is the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure serving 21 counties surrounding (and including) Marion County. For additional information about Komen and how you can help, please visit their website, komenindy.org.
See all event photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/komenindy/sets/72157647797398815/