Plant City residents have the opportunity to purchase pink patches or pink keychain fobs during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The proceeds will go toward the South Florida Baptist Hospital Cancer Resource Center - ‘A Place for Her.’
With another October here, pink once again blossoms as people recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In its effort to support the cause, Plant City has implemented its first Pink Patch Project.
Initiated by police departments nationwide, this campaign takes pink patches and pink keychain fobs, and puts them up for sale. The proceeds are sent to a selected hospital or organization that uses its resources to combat breast cancer.
This year, The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and Plant Police Department are collaborating to do just that.
What’s more, Jim Scott, general manager of Jarrett-Scott Ford, has joined as a sponsor. He helped to fund the pink memorabilia so it could be supplied and sold in Plant City.
The items can be purchased at the Ford dealership as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
The patches will be sold for $10 and the keychain fobs for $7 throughout October.
All proceeds will go toward the South Florida Baptist Hospital Cancer Resource Center – ‘A Place for Her.’
In fact, the campaign got a head start in Plant City, selling patches and keychain fobs as early as May.
“In my time here, we’ve tried to become more engaged with the community through service projects,” said Plant City Police Chief James Bradford.
He explained that when he took his command role in the department earlier this year, he had an agenda. The Pink Patch Project was part of it.
“It’s pretty widespread throughout the country,” continued Bradford, “and I thought that would be a good, easy community involvement.”
The chief reached out to Jodi Stevens, Medical Staff Services manager at South Florida Baptist Hospital.
She herself is a breast cancer survivor and has been in remission for six years now.
“He just asked me where could we donate proceeds to that would help and stay in our community,” explained Stevens.
‘A Place for Her’ could use funds to provide patients with wigs, scarfs and prosthetics.
However, helping to provide resources isn’t new for the initiative.
The campaign first began in 2013 where it sprang up among multiple police departments in California, then venturing out to other regions of the U.S.
Now eight years in, the Pink Patch Project has become a global effort amassing hundreds of agencies, including sheriff, fire, EMS and federal departments.
Breast cancer in women is almost the most common type, just second to skin cancer.
In the U.S, there are currently over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society.
It goes on to state that the average woman has about a 13% chance of developing it.
Risk factors may include inherited genes or aging.
“As you get older, your risk of breast cancer goes up,” states the American Cancer Society. “Most breast cancers are found in women age 55 and older.”
And while the number of cases are found predominantly in women, men too, are subject to this form of cancer.
Plant City Police Captain Alfred Van Duyne understands these statistics and mentioned that cancer doesn’t care “if it’s an opportune time or not, to affect someone.”
He is one of many officers who has shown support by donning pink whether in uniform or not.
Law enforcement officers have custom-made badges with pink borders, and pink pins for ties and collars.
“Everyone, again, is able to at least represent if you don’t have your badge on you that day,” said Van Duyne. “You can wear this and still be visible, still be able to stimulate that conversation.”
Even the back of patrol cars have been adorned with pink ribbons.
As a result, Plant City residents have offered their thanks and have shared their personal stories.
Van Duyne said that at an event, “another single gentleman came up and said that he had lost his wife to breast cancer, so he was very appreciative of this.”
“They’re proud the money is raised here in town, will stay here in town and help our own,” added Stevens.
The police department as well as the Chamber of Commerce have used Facebook as a platform for getting the word around about the project initiative.
Also, a Coffee with a Cop event gave officers an opportunity to put up a stand and sell almost $200 worth of merchandise.
And there are no plans for the momentum to slow down soon. The project is expected to continue beyond October.
On Thursday, Dec. 9, the Chamber of Commerce will announce how much funds have been accumulated for the hospital.
“As a survivor, it’s amazing,” said Stevens. “It’s so warming, and to know that everybody’s got your back when you’re going through a difficult time.”