Every year, the American Cancer Society recruits men from the community to wear pink every day for a month as part of its Real Men Wear Pink campaign, an effort to raise awareness and funds in the fight against breast cancer.
But this isn’t your typical year. Just about the only thing that will be normal for this October’s campaign is the wardrobe choice for the 10 local men committed to the cause.
With competing causes that have arisen through the coronavirus pandemic alongside the social measures being taken to mitigate the burgeoning disease’s spread, the men had to get creative this year with outreach and fundraising. Here, they share why they’re sticking it out and why they joined in the first place.
Real Men Wear Pink
Real Men Wear Pink 2020 chair; managing partner, Heritage Funeral Home East Brainerd Chapel
“When I became part of this campaign in 2018 as a candidate myself, I had no idea what an impact it would have upon my life. My precious mother had survived breast cancer twice, once in 1981 and then again in 1984, and went on to live a wonderful life until she passed away in 2009.
“As I started in the ‘Real Men’ campaign in 2018, the mother of my two daughters began an aggressive battle with breast cancer. It not only spurred me to win the campaign that year [in terms of dollars raised], but participating in Real Men allowed me to be an advocate for those who needed strength and hope to keep fighting this fight.
“I then joined the board of the American Cancer Society, and feel incredibly honored to chair the 2020 Real Men Wear Pink campaign. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can raise awareness. Together, we can keep hope alive. Together, we will find a cure for breast cancer someday. That is my prayer not only for my daughters and granddaughters, but for every woman and man that is and will face this disease.”
Leigh Anne Fryar
Real Men Wear Pink 2020 co-chair; Sales representative, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
“My father lost his life to lung cancer eight years ago, and I’ve known several people who have battled different types of cancer. But as a woman, breast cancer awareness is a special challenge for me. I’m particularly fond of Real Men Wear Pink because it provides men an opportunity to show support in a challenge usually faced by women. I love to see the creative ways the guys promote themselves!”
CEO and owner, Foametix and Bullet Liner of Chattanooga; Hearth Hospice Ambassador
“My father passed away from cancer when I was 3 years old. [Cancer] not only struck my family, but my wife’s as well. Her grandmother and an aunt died from this dreaded disease.
“Currently, we have friends battling cancer as well. Representing the Real Men Wear Pink campaign will allow us to honor the lives of our dear family, friends and [my wife’s, a nurse practitioner] patients by helping to raise awareness and funds to support this great cause.”
Commercial bank advisor and senior vice president, First Volunteer Bank
“My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. My family has multiple friends that are survivors as well. I am participating in Real Men Wear Pink in hopes that money raised from our Chattanooga, Tennessee, group might be the money that finds the cure for cancer.”
CPA, Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough
“In 2016, my sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I witnessed firsthand the trials and tribulations one goes through with the numerous doctor visits, chemo treatments, radiation and so on. Fortunately, my sister beat her cancer and has been in complete remission for four years.
“The process is difficult enough as it is. I want to help alleviate that stress any way that I can so the patient can focus on defeating this terrible disease.”
Owner, Hood CPA & Associates
“Cancer has touched many of my loved ones and impacted lives for many years. Being part of an organization to help fight cancer is an honor and a privilege.”
Realtor and team leader, Austin Sizemore team at Keller Williams
“I wear pink to encourage the 42,000 people that die every year from breast cancer. Several family members have experienced the fear and unsettling diagnosis of breast cancer. Together, we can support those impacted by breast cancer and support the search for a cure through the Real Men Wear Pink campaign.”
President and CEO, First Volunteer Insurance Agency
“My wife had breast cancer in 2009 and then oral cancer in 2020. Becky has survived both. We are fortunate to have had great support and family, but we understand there are people who have cancer that don’t get the support we were blessed with. ACS works to prevent, cure and improve support for cancer victims.”
Steven “Kell” Harvey
Commercial sales, JAT Oil
“Breast cancer hits home for me. My mother-in-law has had multiple battles with cancer, which in turn affected my wife through genetics.”
Executive director, Morning Pointe of Chattanooga
“Cancer has affected my family in a multitude of different ways. My grandfather died of lung cancer, two uncles passed away from lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, and my father has battled skin and prostate cancer. Although breast cancer hasn’t directly affected my family, I wanted to participate in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to support, fundraise and bring awareness to this great cause. My goal during this campaign is to spread the message, ‘We are stronger together.'”
Owner, Mitchell Roberts Studio salon
“My wife is a survivor.”
President, Kennedy Jewelers
“Having had friends and relatives who have been affected by cancer, I was honored to participate in Real Men Wear Pink. The American Cancer Society is such a wonderful organization, and it’s a great feeling knowing every dollar we are raising for RMWP helps with early detection, prevention and patient support.”