Thousands gather, united for a cause, at the pink-adorned starting line of this annual tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The event not only raises awareness but also funds support for local cancer survivors and the Northside Hospital Gwinnett Breast Centers.
The Heart of Paint Gwinnett Pink
Paint Gwinnett Pink is the culmination of efforts from around the county, but it came from the passionate hearts of Jennifer Griffin and Bobbie Menneg. Both women worked closely with cancer patients and realized they were not only battling breast cancer but also facing additional obstacles associated with getting a cancer diagnosis. The two ladies, along with a host of healthcare professionals and community leaders, agreed that the Gwinnett community could help make a difference, and Paint Gwinnett Pink was born!
Community Canvas: A Pink Retrospective
In 2016, more than a thousand participants showed up ready to walk. That meant the inaugural event was the biggest walk in support of breast cancer ever at the time. Paint Georgia Pink Inc. helped get the event off the ground and running, along with helping hands from across the community. Some of the first event sponsors included Metro Waterproofing, Clyde and Sandra Strickland, Suburban Hematology-Oncology Associates, Dr. Kimberly Hutcherson, and Gwinnett Braves and now the Gwinnett Stripers – all who have stood by the effort for the past seven years of events!
They partnered with Gwinnett Medical Center and were able to raise $105,000 for their cause! It was an amount that surpassed all expectations. The Paint Gwinnett Pink inaugural event would create an annual tradition of celebration, remembrance, and community. Participants, sponsors, and committee members all came together to exceed their fundraising goals. Every year since then, Paint Gwinnett Pink has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funding in order to help those in the community. Even in the year of lockdowns and masks, the event was held virtually.
Today, Jennifer Griffin now serves as the Event Director. She works to make sure each event is as special as the first one. For the eighth year in a row, Paint Gwinnett Pink is rallying support. More people are donating, running, walking or simply raising awareness now than ever before! It’s truly a community event, everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer. It supports a cause that’s near and dear to the hearts of everyone in Gwinnett.
“Paint Gwinnett Pink was created to support those fighting breast cancer, celebrate survivors, and remember the beautiful lives lost to the disease”, says Jennifer.
The Dollar Difference On A Local Level
One and a half million dollars. The impact this year is tremendous. That’s the goal for donations that Paint Gwinnett Pink has been working towards for three years. The best part? All of the proceeds stay local.
When it comes to fighting cancer, it’s important to be able to diagnose early and take preventative steps. Equipment is purchased or updated in Northside Hospital facilities located in Gwinnett County. All funds are deposited and dispensed from the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation sub-account of the Patient Assistance – Cancer Fund. The Patient Assistance – Cancer Fund was established to provide financial assistance to Northside Hospital Gwinnett Cancer Institute patients who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of illness. These funds are also tailored toward providing women access to mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs not covered by insurance.
Paint Gwinnett Pink has helped with purchasing tomosynthesis 3D mammography for the Breast Care Centers at Northside Gwinnett. Mammogram screenings can be used to detect cancer when there are no other symptoms. It’s recommended for women over 50 to get one every two years. Rather than struggling to decipher breast tissue from a static image, innovative equipment allows doctors to scrutinize the breast in layers. The modernization has decreased the number of false positives and call-back rates, which results in reduced costs and anxiety.
Whereas these procedures typically cost hundreds out of pocket, the fundraiser will afford hundreds of individuals in Gwinnett access to early detection services, transportation, and other additional services. The funds raised will remain within Gwinnett to help support those affected in the local community. Every single dollar is put to work here at home in the community.
What To Know About Tomosynthesis
Breast Tomosynthesis is also called 3D mammography. It is an advanced form of breast imaging that uses low-dose X-ray systems and computer reconstructions to create three-dimensional images of the breasts. A conventional X-ray creates two-dimensional images by compressing tissue to obtain a clear image in a top-to-bottom and side-to-side approach. This can cause overlapping of the tissue, which can then hide the abnormal tissue and make the abnormal tissue appear normal.
Breast Tomosynthesis moves the X-ray tube in an arc over the breast, to capture images from all angles for the best digital image reconstruction. It captures a series of 40 to 80 images, compared to the traditional system that captures two to four. It minimizes tissue overlap, which makes it harder for cancers to hide or distinguish. This means earlier diagnosis and earlier detection.
The Survivors and Their Stories:
Sandra Strickland: A Greater Purpose
“Clyde and I both have always felt the purpose of giving back to our community is because we feel God has entrusted us to help people who are in need. We especially feel a special cause to help our local hospital.”
Sandra and her husband, Clyde, have been sponsoring the event since the first year it started. They’re passionate about helping the community and they know on a personal level all the good that raising awareness, support and funding can do. Sandra has battled cancer throughout her life, her first diagnosis was in 1973. When Sandra went in for a mammogram in 2022, she was able to have it done with the new tomosynthesis equipment purchased with 2021 Paint Gwinnett Pink funding. The new technology provided her with early detection of the disease’s return which meant she could begin treating it as soon as possible. “I’m blessed with that,” said Sandra. “We want to purchase more of these machines so we can save women’s lives.”
Alexis’ Story: Thankful for 3D Technology
“It is completely normal to feel scared and overwhelmed. For me, knowledge is power, so educating myself on my diagnosis and treatment plan options helped a lot,” said Alexis. “I am extremely thankful that I caught my breast cancer so early and believe that having the 3D mammogram helped detect my DCIS early.”
Choosing a 3D mammogram can be the decision that allows you to detect cancer. When Alexis’ opted for one, her results came back showing areas of calcification that would need a biopsy. She would be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and eventually undergo a bilateral mastectomy. She was able to tackle her cancer with the experts at Northside and the support of her family and friends.
Northside is Built to Beat Cancer
The Northside Cancer Institute works hard to demonstrate its commitment to providing the best possible care to patients with diseases of the breast. It’s been accredited by the American Colleges of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, which recognizes centers from around the country that have achieved the highest quality breast care programs. Northside’s program is among the top five in the country. With comprehensive screening and diagnostic services, as well as imaging centers, it attends to over 3,000 patients every year. They’ve been a long-time supporter of the Paint Gwinnett Pink organization. They’re a Diamond Level sponsor of the 2023 event.
Paint Gwinnett Pink on the Gwinnett Podcast
Tune in to this captivating podcast episode featuring Jason Chandler, President of Gwinnett Medical Foundation, and the inspiring Adele Steele, a cancer survivor! Join us as Adele courageously shares her remarkable journey and the exceptional care she received at Northside Hospital, imparting her unwavering belief in trusting the expertise of medical professionals. Jason Chandler takes us behind the scenes of the transformative “Paint Gwinnett Pink” event, discussing its profound local influence and the heartwarming stories of resilience it has generated so far.
Discover the power of community, hope, and determination as we delve into Adele’s poignant narrative and Jason’s aspirations for the event’s future.
On Your Marks, Get Set… Not a runner? No worries. The event is for walkers, survivors, supporters and everyone from every background. The 2023 race event services are provided by Pacesetter Road Race Consulting and the course is officially US Track and Field (USATF) certified. Participants can join as individuals or as teams. They set a fundraising goal and aspire towards it, reaching out to their friends and family to join the cause.
Participants line up at Coolray Field on Saturday, October 14, 2023, for a 9:00 a.m. start time. Any pace goes! The event is family-friendly and includes live entertainment, vendors, booths and other activities so everyone can be involved!
September: Pink in the Park at Coolray Field
In September, the Gwinnett Stripers raised awareness by wearing special pink jerseys that were available for purchase, proceeds going to Paint Gwinnett Pink!
October: Mobile Unit On The Move
Thanks to Lincoln Property Company, the mobile mammography unit was set up to see those who had physician’s orders for mammograms at 1755 North Brown Road in early October.
Calling All Cities! The Pink Proclamations
The Gwinnett County Commission, along with thirteen Gwinnett Cities, declared their support for Paint Gwinnett Pink by naming October Paint Gwinnett Pink Month. City residents are encouraged to check their health, get their cancer screenings, participate in events and donate to the cause. Proclamations came from Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Dacula, Duluth, Grayson, Hoschton, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Snellville, Sugar Hill, and Suwanee!
In the vibrant tapestry of community and compassion, the 8th annual Paint Gwinnett Pink 5K Walk/Run for Breast Cancer and Family Fun Event stands as a testament to unity and hope. We extend our sincerest gratitude to our sponsors, whose impactful contributions infuse life into this event’s mission.
Your support transcends the race, touching lives in profound ways. Thanks to you, Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) can provide critical access to advanced imaging technology, enabling early detection for those facing breast cancer. Your benevolence also ensures that vital patient assistance is readily available.
With each step taken during the 5K, the spirit of your sponsorship propels us forward. You are the heartbeat of this event, and your commitment resonates deeply within the community. Together, we stand against breast cancer, armed with unity and resilience.
From all of us at Paint Gwinnett Pink, thank you for your unwavering generosity and dedication. You are a true partner in this journey of making a difference.Warmly, The Paint Gwinnett Pink Team