If you’ve driven past the cannon at the Loop recently, you may have noticed something. No, it’s not another McGill vs. Murphy victory paint job. Not only are there some lovely brassiere decorations blowing in the wind surrounding the cannon, it’s been painted pink. Thoroughly covering the formerly black historical monument, along with the inscription “Bras Across the Causeway,” pink is the color of the month. But why?
Pink has been a long-standing color for October, and for good reason. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers in the world today, affecting more than 200,000 people each year in the United States alone. Breast cancer survival rates have come a long way, and there are chances of going on to live a normal life after treatment, but every case is different, and sometimes the cancer metastasizes, which means it spreads to other parts of the body.
Norville Harrison’s wife, Debbie, was one of those people.
“She was a wonderful lady — well, she had to be to put up with me!” Harrison joked while glancing around Callaghan’s Irish Social Club. He started a fundraiser called “Pink is the New Green Soiree” to help benefit the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute soon after his wife passed, around six years ago. They’ve been having an event at Callaghan’s for the past five.
“We’ve got a lot of sponsors who participate, and we do a silent auction. We used to do it differently, but the silent auction works best while a band is playing,” he said. With participants from restaurants to clothing stores to music venues, it’s sure to be an event to witness.
Although a social occurrence, it’s a personal loss that brought this on. “We were in Tuscaloosa, visiting one of our two sons,” Harrison reminisced. “When we were driving by Bryant–Denny Stadium, she says, ‘you know, I think I’ve already seen my last season.’ I didn’t know how to respond to that. But a couple of months later she was gone.”
Debbie’s breast cancer had spread to her lungs and her brain. After she contracted pneumonia, there wasn’t much they could do. “While she was in the hospital, she told me to bring a bottle of wine! Sitting there next to her, I didn’t have anything to admit, no confession of truth. She was a good woman,” he said.
With the event at Callaghan’s on Oct. 23, Harrison said, “I really think we can make it the best year yet.”
Another fundraiser taking place this month is the reason the cannon sits pretty in pink. Bras Across the CAUSEway is a local support group that raises funds to directly assist the local breast cancer patients at The Breast Center at Providence Hospital. Their goal is to help women and men who are fighting breast cancer cover basic living expenses. This can include paying bills, buying groceries and putting gas in their car, which can give them the freedom to focus on what matters.
“We saw a need,” said Chase Webster, an executive member of the committee. “We had been a part of other nonprofit organizations that would raise awareness for breast cancer or would raise money for research. There was a point where we participated with other organizations that would donate a portion of their proceeds to patients to help pay for bills or other living expenses. At the end of the day, though, we saw that local breast cancer patients were struggling to maintain a living. So we got together and formed Bras Across the CAUSEway, to bring relief to our local patients.”
They started a 5K and 1K Fun Run, but it grew from there. Now a Restaurant Rally takes place as well, which consists of various participating restaurants serving up food while giving the proceeds to the cause.
“We want the money raised by our local community to stay with our local community,” Webster said. “We do this simply because we understand the emotional stress that battling cancer brings, and when you add in the inability to work because of treatments or the disease, that stress only grows. The funds are not a handout to someone fallen on hard times. These are a helping hand up.”
The Bras Across the CAUSEway 5K and 1K Fun Run will be held on Oct. 12 at Meaher State Park. Registration is open through Oct. 10. If you are interested in registering to run, walk or support the athletes, visit their Facebook page for more information. “Everyone at Bras Across the CAUSEway views these contributions as an investment in our own community,” Webster said. “We hope you will continue to provide us with your loving support to make Mobile and Baldwin counties better places.”
Another event occurring locally this month is the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, put on by the American Cancer Society. It starts downtown in Bienville Square on Oct. 26, at 8 a.m. They are also putting on a bake sale at Gardberg & Kemmerly, Attorneys at Law, on Oct. 18 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Fundraisers can be a good time, with social aspects and events galore, but it’s important to remember the real goal: helping the community and finding a cure. If a cure is found, not only will thousands of people be saved, but pink can go back to being what it is: a color.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).