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Soaring ahead; PTTP sets $300K ‘17 goal as it aims to surpass $1 million mark

Paint the Town Pink is aiming to soar past a million dollars raised for cancer research in 2017.

The Hormel Institute and organizers behind the annual breast cancer fundraiser met at The Institute Monday to announce the 2017 PTTP will run Jan. 30 to Feb. 12, 2017, and has set a $300,000 fundraising goal to support breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.

“We are motivated by those that we love that we’ve lost or were diagnosed over the past year with cancer,” PTTP Director Kathi Finley said. “And we’re also motivated by those that we love that beat cancer in the past year, so we’re going to work very hard to obtain our goal.”

PTTP has raised $825,000 in six years and this year’s fundraiser is expected to bring the overall goal to more than $1 million raised since its start in 2011.

In a new event, Tim Cloyd will embark on a high-altitude hot air balloon flight sometime this winter to raise money.

The high-altitude flight will last several hours and could cover 100 to 400 miles of miles, depending on weather.

People can make contributions and pledges to the flight. Those people can then submit the names of a cancer victim or survivor for Cloyd to read

“Tim will say that during the course of the flight he’ll be very uncomfortable and cold,” said YMCA Director Tedd Maxfield, who flies his own balloon. “He’ll need oxygen to sustain himself at the altitudes that he flies, but he talks about how the trials and tribulations he’ll go through in the air are nothing compared to what somebody who’s fighting cancer goes through.”

Maxfield and another Austin resident plan to have their hot air balloons out at a few PTTP events in Austin, weather permitting.

PTTP mainstays like the Plunging for Pink polar plunge and others will return.

Through The Hormel Foundation’s ongoing financial support for The Institute, 100 percent of gifts given to The Hormel Institute fund breast cancer research, and none of the money goes to administrative expenses.

Money raised through PTTP goes toward grants for which Institute scientists can apply.

The money is divvied out through a  peer review process and Institute scientists can apply for PTTP funding and then Masonic Cancer Center Scientists designate who gets the money.

“These funds are very, very important in how they fund novel research … that wouldn’t be able to be conducted otherwise,” Institute Director of Development and Public Relations Dennison said. “We’re thankful for everybody for your support and that it makes a difference.”

Dennison said the money helps fund first steps to gather data so scientists can later apply for larger grants after doing that initial research.

Finley praised Institute Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong and Associated Director Dr. Ann Bode for being good stewards of the PTTP funds and using it to make something bigger and better.

PTTP organizers shared a success story as The Institute’s Dr. Rebecca Morris has received seed grants from PTTP and recently presented on her research at the Masonic Cancer Centers.

PTTP started in 2010 with the Paint the Rink Pink hockey game, which raised about $22,000. The game remains a staple of PTTP.

The game features pink ice and pink Bruins jerseys auctioned off after the game, Paint the Rink Pink has been an annual sellout of about 2,000 people at Riverside Arena and raised more than $195,000. The Austin Bruins’ seventh annual Paint the Rink Pink game will be on Feb. 10, 2017, against Coulee Region.

After raising more than $75,000 earlier this year for the 2016 Paint the Town Pink, the fifth annual Plunging for Pink polar plunge will gather again Feb. 4, 2017, at East Side Lake for the highly popular event organized by the Austin Vision 2020 Waterways Committee. Fishing for a Cure will also be back again on Feb. 11, 2017, at East Side Lake. The annual ice fishing event has raised over $67,000 for breast cancer research since 2009.

Though the seventh annual Paint the Town Pink doesn’t begin until January, several other events occur throughout the year.

Several events are planned for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, including the Hunt for a Cure pheasant hunt organized by the Mower County Habitat & Pheasants Forever of Oct. 8, Hoot ‘N’ Ole’s Bean Bag tournament and Runnings’ Ladies Night Out on Oct. 19.

Other PTTP events are held by sports teams, organizations and businesses throughout the year, such as Thrivent Financial’s “Racing to Give” event at Chateau Raceway on July 8, 2016 that raised $1,161 and several Pink Out games with Austin High School teams.

In 2016, PTTP raised $272,000 was raised in Austin and communities that include Adams, Apple Valley, Brownsdale, Blooming Prairie and Rose Creek and through Sterling Drug’s 28 stores and communities.

“Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way or another and every year as we see loved ones either lost to cancer or diagnosed with cancer, or our loved are ones are being cured from cancer,” Finley said. “It’s just a motivator to keep going, that we need this research to be done.”

Head online for more information

Details for many other PTTP fundraisers — new and returning events — will be announced as plans are developed and finalized over the coming months. PTTP encourages new people and organizations to get involved and anyone interested in supporting the event should contact Kathi Finley (deadline is Jan. 25 for event to be included on the official PTTP calendar) at 507-460-0259 or by email at GoPTTP@gmail.com.

For all details on PTTP events, go online to The Hormel Institute’s website — www.hi.umn.edu — and click on the PTTP link at the top or go to Paint the Town Pink’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/austinpttp.

Breast cancer predominantly affects women but also is diagnosed in men in about 2,000 new cases annually. It is the most common type of cancer in the United States excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers and the second-leading cause of death by cancer, with more than 40,000 deaths estimated per year.