Southeast Alumna Joins Pink Up, Dig for Life to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 22, 2014 – Southeast Missouri State University alumna Sherri Cliffe of St. Louis, founder and owner of Cliffedge Marketing, is organizing “Power of the Pink,” a program created to raise awareness for breast cancer on Oct. 1 in collaboration with Pink Up and Dig for Life.
The Power of the Pink program is designed to bring national awareness to the annual Pink Up campaign in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, Mo., sponsored each October by Saint Francis Medical Center.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring something back to the town of Cape, where I hold so many special memories of going to college here. Southeast provided me a life direction for which I will be forever grateful,” Cliffe said.
The idea behind Power of the Pink is to “Flip the Switch and Turn on the Power of the Pink,” according to Cliffe. Participants will be asked to do so by placing a pink CFL light bulb in their front porch light, or at their place of business, “to light up the night in pink, showing your support of breast cancer research and awareness,” Cliffe said.
“We’re planning to host a Power of the Pink event at the Cape Girardeau Walmart to kick off what we’re calling “Lighting Up a Midwestern Town in Pink” Cliffe said.
The event is scheduled for 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at the Cape Girardeau Walmart. A balloon release is planned for approximately 4 p.m. that day.
“This is not ‘just’ a balloon release … each balloon will be tied with a biodegradable cotton string with a social media hashtag component, that says ‘Let me know where you find me, #PowerofthePink,’” Cliffe said.
National food suppliers will give out samples of their products, and Walmart will be lit up in pink. Participants will include dignitaries from around the region, including the Walmart regional general manager, Ameren Missouri managers; breast cancer survivors; and Southeast athletes, sororities and alumni.
“The mission and the vision are to make the color ‘pink’ mean something … to show all women that there is huge support behind the breast cancer cause. Also, to provide free or low-cost mammograms to women in hard to reach, rural areas across the country,” Cliffe said. “Our goal is to carry this theme of ‘Lighting Up a Midwestern Town in Pink’ across the country, with Cape being the ‘founding town’ of such an endeavor. By partnering with local Walmarts and food suppliers, the breast cancer message can reach into regions bringing mammography vans and breast health education booths to Walmart parking lots. We are trying to spread the word that ‘early detection is key’ in the fight against breast cancer.”
In addition, a monetary donation will be made from Power of the Pink to Saint Francis Medical Center for free or low-cost mammograms to uninsured women.
Partners in the program include a variety of national food suppliers, Walmart and Ameren Missouri. Food suppliers include Nabisco, Kraft Foods, Prairie Farms, Red Bull, Pepperidge Farm, Bimbo Bakeries, Tabasco, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Johnson and Johnson, and Prestige Brands.
During the event, Southeast student-athletes will staff a Saint Francis Medical Center tent and distribute information about “Dig for Life” and “Pink Up.”
The Dig for Life campaign was started in 2000 by former volleyball head coach and current Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Cindy Gannon and sponsored by Saint Francis Medical Center to help educate women about breast cancer. The campaign also raises money to provide mammograms for women.
Dig for Life has been able to provide mammograms to area women who could not receive this screening due to lack of adequate health insurance, high deductibles, unemployment or inability to pay. Since its inception in 2000, the program has funded over 2,000 free mammograms to area women.
The University’s Department of Athletics continues to embrace the Dig for Life campaign as other sports have joined the volleyball team’s efforts during their respective seasons, including gymnastics, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and baseball. Each season, these teams honor area breast cancer survivors to raise awareness of breast cancer and support the Dig for Life campaign.
“I am so thankful to Saint Francis Medical Center and the Southeast volleyball team for all their efforts in the Dig for Life campaign,” Gannon said. “This program began in memory of my mother and thanks to the hard work and generosity of so many people, her memory lives on and we are potentially saving the lives of many women. I feel very fortunate to be associated with such wonderful and caring individuals.”
Gannon says The Power of the Pink event Oct. 1 dovetails nicely with both Pink Up and Dig for Life.
The Power of the Pink has donated 1,000 pink light bulbs to light up the Southeast campus, and sorority and fraternity housing during the October campaign. Free bulbs were distributed to families visiting, with donations accepted for them, during Southeast’s Family Weekend Sept. 19-21. Southeast faculty and staff may now pick one up at the Southeast Athletics ticket office. They also will be available to fans for free at Southeast’s Homecoming football game on Oct. 4 near the tailgate area and in front of Houck Stadium.
Student-athletes and members of the Greek community at Southeast will be distributing them and accepting donations with proceeds to benefit Pink Up and Dig for Life. Funds raised will be donated to Pink Up.
Cliffe, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies from Southeast, came up with the idea after hearing about the area’s “Pink Up” and Dig for Life campaigns, and decided to partner in the effort.
“We were looking to ‘Light Up a Midwestern Town in Pink,’ and the two programs shared so many things in common, we just had to try,” Cliffe said.
Cliffe lost two close friends of hers to lung cancer and pancreatic cancer; both cancers began as breast cancer, and spread.
“It made me sick to my stomach to lose these very successful and powerful women, and I knew I had the resources to make people stand up and pay attention to this cause, especially in local communities where Walmart has a presence, and folks care about their women … moms, daughters, sisters, grandmothers,” Cliffe said.
Cliffe advises students to “use your youthful knowledge of social media to do ‘good.’ Be that perfect resource to touch our communities and encourage awareness of breast cancer, and its effect on so many personal lives. Make the word ‘pink’ mean something positive on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.”