Back in pink: Committee piecing together annual cancer fundraiser

Published 11:50 am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Auctioneer Kevin Maring from Matt Maring Auction auctions off a pair of Bruins tickets to Paint the Rink Pink as Bruiser the Bear presents them Tuesday night during the events promotion at the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” at The Hormel Institute.

To say preparations for Paint the Town Pink are in full swing may be an understatement.

“Every day our phone is ringing off the wall,” said Cheryl Corey, executive director of Austin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Kathi Finley and Dick Boerger settle on a way to get two tickets during an auction at the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” at The Hormel Institute. The event was used as to promote Paint the The Rink Pink and it’s partner Paint the Town Pink. Both Finley and Boerger decided to split the two tickets they were bidding on. Eric Johnson/

Corey is one of a dozen people on the Paint the Town Pink planning committee who are whittling away at the event’s second go. Representatives from the Bruins, the city of Austin, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups are also involved.

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“We have a really nice, well-rounded mix of community partners that want to help,” she said.

This year’s event will build on last year’s debut, but the roots of the idea go further back. A number of years ago, the CVB board had been talking for a while about how to put together a winter festival that would get people into town to spend the night in Austin. The CVB is funded by lodging tax, and relies on guests booking stays at local hotels.

Then, three years ago, the Austin Bruins put together the Paint the Rink Pink event. The CVB board soon got the idea to built off it, and approached Bruins owner Craig Patrick for permission.

“He and the Bruins were very receptive to that,” Corey said.

The event took off, and the community pulled in more than $62,000 before the Bruins game and the other events going on around town.

This year’s kickoff, which took place Tuesday night at The Hormel Institute, got people focused on the upcoming events. Austin Bruins Forward Chris Fischer and his father, Joe, honored Chris’ mother, Debra, who passed away last May after a six-month battle with breast cancer. The Fischers placed a memorial panel in The Institute’s Donor Recognition Wall.

“There was not one dry eye in the place,” Corey said. “Hearing their story just made you want to say, ‘I’m on board, what way can I help?’”

And the response is enthusiastic. Churches, nonprofits and businesses are all getting on board to set up events and fundraisers under the pink theme. Corey said it helps the cause for the debut event last year to have been such a success.

“Now that we’re a viable event and have success behind us and visibility, it’s easier to ask for things,” she said. “People are really being creative on how they can raise money.”

Corey said many visitors to Austin find The Hormel Institute’s efforts in fighting cancer to be personally meaningful. Those whose family members have been affected by cancer connect with the organization’s goals.

“Motor coach groups tell us all the time Austin is so fortunate to have this gem in town,” she said. “They’re working literally around the clock on trying to find that cure.”

The Institute will make appearances throughout February at many Paint the Town Pink events, to support the project and to thank residents who contribute to cancer research.

“Despite our great ability to get grants, research takes major funding,” said Gail Dennison, director of public relations for the Institute. “In this economic time where grant funding is all the more hard to come by, community support and funding from other sources becomes even more important.”

Dennison said the Institute tries to be as helpful and supportive as possible throughout Paint the Town Pink and all money collected will be used for breast cancer research.

Last year, Paint the Town Pink saw a number of businesses get on board with activities, but this year, many more individuals are stepping up. Now that people are familiar with what will happen, they are looking for ways to help out. The result is a very busy planning committee, which will meet every week from now until the event to tackle a laundry list of preparations.

In the meantime, the best place for Austinites to keep track of new developments is on the CVB’s website,

“We’re trying to keep that updated every day as best we can with all the things coming up,” she said.

Corey asks that all donations for Paint the Town Pink be made to the CVB instead of directly to The Institute, since it makes donations easier to keep track of. The final check will be presented to The Institute on Valentine’s Day.

—Trey Mewes contributed to this report.

Paint the Town Pink Events

The following is a list of events as of press time. More events may be scheduled leading up to February, according to Cheryl Corey, executive director of Austin’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Feb. 1
—Paint the Gym Pink
Austin Packers Girls Basketball vs. Rochester Mayo, 7:30 p.m.
$7 adults, $5 students; volunteers will sell T-shirts.

Feb. 2
—Austin Packer Dance Team Winter Dance Show
11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Donating proceeds from blanket raffle.
—Fishing for a Cure
East Side Lake, noon to 2 p.m.; Activities after at Austin Eagles Club. Entry fee $15, Kids 14 and under $10. Fee includes food, bait, door prize drawings. Call Jim at 219-6229 for more info.
—Paint the Rink Pink
Austin Bruins vs. Brookings Blizzard, 7 p.m.

Feb. 3
—Pink Pancakes and SPAM at St. Olaf Church
8 a.m. to noon, $5 ages 11-adult, $3 ages 4-10, free for 3 and under. Additional donations welcome.

Feb. 7
—Survivor Night Diva Experience at Ooh La La
Local breast cancer survivors will be guests of honor, 6 to 8 p.m. Pink wine tasting from Apollo. 10 percent of proceeds donated to The Hormel Institute.

Feb. 8
Community National Bank Pink Bake Sale
—Red White and Pink Event – Heart Health, Wellness and Cancer Health
“Male Runway” at the Oak Park Mall. nominations being taken at Thrivent Financial 1211 4th St. NW.
—Torge’s Happy Hour Fundraiser Event
5 to 7 p.m. SEEDS live band will play, and there will be a “Pink Drink” menu with $1 from each drink purchase donated
—Paint the Town Pink Movie Fundraiser “Pretty In Pink”
Sponsored by Kathi Finley, 7:30 p.m. Come dressed in your pink 80’s best. $5 per person, additional donations accepted.

Feb. 9
—Polar Plunge for Pink
East Side Lake, 1 p.m. More details to follow.
—Dart Tourney & Mardi Gras Party at Mickey’s Place pink beads, jell-o shots, and shirts for sale. All tips go to The Hormel Institute.

New events added this year

In addition to last year’s activities and attractions, such as Paint the Rink Pink, Fishing for a Cure and Paint the Gym Pink, Paint the Town Pink’s sophomore effort will feature a wide range of new events, including:

—The Austin Packer Dance Show, an annual event, will take place during Paint the Town Pink this year.

—Torge’s Live Sports Pub and Grill will hold a happy hour fundraiser on Feb. 8, complete with pink-colored drinks and the Austin band Seeds performing.

—”Plunging for Pink,” a Polar Plunge-style event, happens at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 at East Side Lake. Teams can be made up of three or six people, and about 12 people are already committed to jump.

—On a day yet to be determined, the Paramount Theatre is slated to show the movie “Pretty in Pink,” and will accept a freewill offering from people who come to watch.

—Ooh LaLa! Handbags and Accessories will hold a diva event on Feb. 7.

—A pink decorating contest will determine the best building decorators in each category for homes, businesses and non-profits. Registrations forms need to be in by Jan. 18. Each winner receives a pair of Bruins tickets, a license plate frame and entry to the Pink Pancake Breakfast.

—Riverland will shoot for raising $12,000 for its own contribution to Paint the Town Pink. If the goal is met, Judy Enright, Riverland Facilities Manager and alumna, will shave her head.