Heading into its 10th year, Paint the Town Pink announces 2020 kickoff

As the “Breast Cancer Awareness” month of October comes to a close, the 10th annual Paint the Town Pink (PTTP) fundraiser officially kicked off Wednesday at the Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.

Organizers are hoping this year’s PTTP will be a record year in more ways than one.

“Our mission this year is to raise a record amount, not just in dollars, but of participating communities, grants and events,” said PTTP Director Kathi Finley.

Kathi Finley, Paint the Town Pink chair speaks Wednesday during the PTTP kick-off.
Photos by Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Beginning in 2011 as an Austin Bruins game, played on pink ice, that raised $23,000, PTTP has grown to include numerous events throughout the year. To date, it has raised $1.77 million to help support breast cancer research at the Hormel Institute, though money has also been used to research other types of cancer as well.

“We are making a difference and making more research possible,” Finley said. “I cannot be a scientist, but this is something I can do to make a difference. The scientists at the Hormel Institute are working hard every day to make new discoveries and Paint the Town Pink helps make that happen.”

In 2017, PTTP distributed eight $25,000 seed grants to Hormel Institute scientists with innovative ideas for breast cancer research. Those grants were all renewed for a second year in 2018.

Stephanie Blaser, Paint the Town Pink’s ambassador in 2014. She spoke again during the PTTP kick-off Wednesday afternoon. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“This really means a lot to us here at the (Hormel) Institute because it is a source of funding we don’t normally have,” said Hormel Institute Interim Director Dr. Ann Bode.

This year, five new innovative PTTP research grants worth $30,000 each were awarded to Hormel Institute scientists.

The grant money helps fund research that might not be possible otherwise.

“Given how competitive it is to get federal funding, it would be very difficult to fund many of these projects without the community’s support,” said Dr. Sergio Gradilone, whose work to develop targeted therapy for triple-negative breast cancer is being funded by one of the grants.

The Hormel Institute’s Gail Dennison holds up the very first Paint the Rink Pink Bruins’ hockey jersey.

“This is a gift that everyone gives to each other,” said Hormel Institute Director of Development and Public Relations Gail Dennison. “People understand that medical research is the first step that leads to cancer prevention, better cancer therapies and people living longer, healthier lives, uninterrupted by cancer. We make progress by coming together with that vision and goal in mind.”

PTTP has events scheduled throughout 2020 to celebrate 10 years of funding breast cancer research at the Hormel Institute and to thank the community for its amazing support.

For more information on Paint the Town Pink, visit hi.umn.edu/pttp or contact Kathi Finley at goPTTP@gmail.com or 507-460-0259.

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