Strut your stuff

PINK RACERS: Participants from last year’s Stiletto Sprint race toward the finish line down Michigan Avenue in Big Rapids. The race is a popular event of Paint Big Rapids Pink, a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the Susan P. Wheatlake Women’s Cancer and Wellness Fund and Center and breast health. (Pioneer file photos)

Paint Big Rapids Pink continues today with Stiletto Sprint downtown

BIG RAPIDS — Dozens of stiletto-studded women, men and mascots will strut their way down Michigan Avenue today as part of the third annual Paint Big Rapids Pink campaign.

The Stiletto Sprint through downtown Big Rapids continues the month-long campaign to raise awareness of the Susan P. Wheatlake Women’s Cancer and Wellness Fund and Center, breast health and good health practices overall. Races start at 6 p.m., with registration starting one hour prior in front of Artworks.

The races will be followed by an awards ceremony, and a “Pink in the City – Girls Night Out” at Natural Beauty Salon and Day Spa and “Boys Night Out” at Cranker’s Brewery.

Since its inception in 2010, the PBRP campaign has grown from one week of events to the entire month of October, which is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Campaign events include a casino night, sporting events and other activities.

“The whole point of doing (Paint Big Rapids Pink) is to raise awareness around a couple of things,” said Lynne Scheible, committee chair and Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Advisory Board vice president. “One is the Wheatlake Center, so that people know that it is here and a resource. The second thing is around breast health awareness and really for people to take care of themselves.”

In 2005, the Wheatlake family started a cancer-related endowment fund through the Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation. In 2008, the Susan P. Wheatlake Women’s Cancer and Wellness Center was opened at MCMC to offer resources, information on cancer and support to anybody affected by cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 226,870 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 39,510 will die from the disease. In 2010, the most current data available, it was estimated that 12.2 percent of women born would be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. And as of 2009, 2.7 million women in the U.S. had a history of breast cancer.

“If people look at cancer as something that many of us are going to face … that’s probably a more realistic and skillful way of looking at self-advocacy then saying, ‘Oh I hope it never happens to me,’” said Tom Hogenson, MCMC Foundation director. “Cancer is not going to go away tomorrow in spite of all the wonderful research that has been done and all the medical advances. I think it’s pretty plain that cancer is part of the human condition and it is going to continue to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Organizers have added several new events to this year’s campaign, including a wine and beer tasting at the Big Rapids Elks lodge and a Boy’s Night Out, which will provide information on prostate cancer and other men’s cancers. Fifteen percent of sales from the evening will benefit the Hall and Hall Wheatlake Center Men’s Cancer and Wellness Endowment Fund.

Also new this year, organizers will place several posters throughout Big Rapids describing cancer through the experiences of individuals who have lived through it. The individuals include cancer survivors, caregivers, spouses and other family members.

During the past two years, Hogenson estimates the month-long campaign has raised about $50,000 for the center. Attendance at the center also has risen from approximately 25 people a month when it first opened to about 80 per month.

The goal of the campaign is to continue to raise awareness and eventually partner with other communities in the area, said Debra Jacks, MCMC Foundation’s Planned Giving and Development director.

“We really want to turn this into a regional effort, not just in the City of Big Rapids,” Jacks said. “Even though it is Paint Big Rapids Pink, we want everybody to know that they are welcomed.”

For more information and a complete schedule of the month’s events, visit www.spwcenter.org.

The third annual Paint Big Rapids Pink event schedule:

  • Today — “The Stiletto Sprint.” Women’s, men’s, mascot’s and fun races. Registration costs $10 and begins at 5 p.m. in front of Artworks in downtown Big Rapids. Races start at 6 p.m. with the awards ceremony starting at 6:20 p.m.
  • Today, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — “Pink in the City – Girls Night Out” at Natural Beauty Salon and Day Spa. “BraCause We Care” art exhibit and Telling Our Story profiles begins. $30 for advance tickets only. Tickets are available at Natural Beauty and Fairman’s Apparel/The Sole.
  • Today, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — “Boys Night Out” at Cranker’s Brewery. Information on prostate health will be available. Fifteen percent of sales will benefit the Hall and Hall Wheatlake Center Men’s Cancer and Wellness Endowment Fund.
  • Oct. 1 to 30 — “BraCAUSE We Care” art exhibit and silent auction at Natural Beauty Salon and Day Spa. Deadline to register bra-based artwork is Sept. 21. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — General Federation of Women’s Clubs Home Tour of Big Rapids area homes. Tickets cost $15 from any GFWC Big Rapids member and at Patterson’s Flowers.
  • Saturday, 6 to 8:30 p.m. — “Night of Wine for Days of Hope” wine and beer tasting at Big Rapids Elks Lodge No. 974. Tickets cost $15 and advance purchase is encouraged. Tickets are available at the Elks and DesNoyers Agency. One hundred percent of tickets sales support the Wheatlake Fund.
  • Oct. 9, 12:10 to 5:10 p.m. — “Power Up for Pink” Boot Camp at the Fitness Doctor Studio in downtown Big Rapids. Donations support the Wheatlake Fund.
  • Oct. 10 — “Spiking Out Cancer” Big Rapids High School volleyball vs. Holton at Big Rapids High School. Junior varsity starts at 5:30 p.m. and varsity starts at 7 p.m. Adult tickets costs $5 and student tickets cost $4.
  • Oct. 11, 6 p.m. — SPW Cancer and Wellness Awareness Series, “Finding your Marathon with New Breast Friends.” Diane Casperson and Cynthia Wakefield, authors of “New Breast Friends: Surviving Cancer … Twice” at the Holiday Inn Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
  • Oct. 16 to 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Center Open House at Mecosta County Medical Center Professional Building, located at 705 Oak St. in Big Rapids. The open house is free and open to the public.
  • Oct. 19, 7 p.m. — “Rolling for Pink” casino/Vegas night at Tullymore Resort in Stanwood. Live entertainment is included. Tickets costs $50 and are available at Fairman’s Apparel/The Sole, Preference Dental and Tullymore Resort.
  • Oct. 21, 10 a.m. — “Du” It for Life Tullymore Duathlon (Run/Bike/Run). Registration forms can be found at www.tullymoregolf.com. The cost to register before Sept. 21 is $50 for an individual $50 and $150 for a team. After Sept. 21, registration costs $60 for an individual and $180 for a team. The day of the event, registration costs $75 for an individual and $225 for a team. Mixed teams must contain at least one male and one female. The race begins at the Tullymore clubhouse in Stanwood.
  • Oct. 21, noon to 4 p.m. — “Pink Pasta Feast” at Tullymore Golf Course clubhouse. A donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children is suggested to benefit the Wheatlake Fund.
  • Oct. 21, 4 p.m. — Tuba Bach concert featuring jazz singer Sunny Wilkinson with Voca Lyrica, Big Rapids’ premier women’s choir, at Big Rapids High School auditorium. The event is open to the public and free, but donations are accepted.

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