National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is every October.
A local organization, Back in the Swing, partners with businesses to bring in money for breast cancer and to show support for the cause.
Founder Bob Unell said Back in the Swing fo- cuses on the survivors rather than the disease itself. “This makes a huge difference,” he said. “The medical care after your cancer treatments should also be standard of care along with during the treat- ment. We have far too long ignored the health of the cancer survivors.”
Town Center Plaza has five stores involved with Back in the Swing: Brighton Collectibles, Dean & Deluca, GNC, Lucy Activewear and Pottery Barn.
Brighton Collectibles assistant manager Antinette Manzo said they love helping out with the cause.
“Every year in October, Brighton comes up with a bracelet and it’s a collectible bracelet so there are many women that collect them over the years,” Manzo said.
Each bracelet costs $50 and $10 of it goes to Back in the Swing.
“Worldwide, the bracelets will provide about $500,000 to breast cancer charities,” she said.
This year’s limited edition bracelet features a dangling heart-shaped charm with pink crystals on one side and the breast cancer ribbon on the other.
She said that it has been so successful that people call weeks in advance to get their hands on one of these bracelets.
“People start calling early and asking ‘When is your breast cancer bracelet coming out?’” Manzo said. “It [is] standing room only in the store when we come out with them.”
Back in the Swing does various fundraisers along with many shopping events.
“We have raised about $2.5 million in eight years through these shopping events,” Unell said. “We think it’s amazing how everyone has come out and supported this and allowed us to raise those kinds of funds which we have used to provide the feed money to start several of those cancer survivorship programs.”
Unell said the organization has also done different kinds of events in the past like Jazzercise and yoga.
“The actual experience that someone participates in while we’re raising funds is something that is good for survivorship, like exercise,” he said.
More businesses are getting involved with Back in the Swing every year.
“Retailers like it,” he said. “They want to be involved. We are so lucky to have such a giving com- munity who wants to help out.”
Unell said the businesses play a huge part in the success of the organization.
“We couldn’t do the work we do by just inviting shoppers to be involved,” he said. “We also go to the business community, and we ask them to become the underwire of fundraising.”
He said high school students can help out the cause.
“If high school students could share the informa- tion that Back in the Swing is there to help breast cancer survivors after treatment, and if they direct them to our website, people can get a lot of informa- tion that perhaps they have never gotten before,” Unell said. “They can also participate in helping us with what we’re calling ‘celebrating and educating.’ Get involved. There is something for everybody.”
Chili’s Bar and Grill also partners with Back in the Swing.
“Every Tuesday in October we are doing a give- back-night,” Chili’s manager Annie Glunz said. “Any customer that comes in with an email that says Back in the Swing, we will give 10 percent of their order
to the cause.” Glunz said the founders of Back in the Swing
came to them and asked them to help out. “We chose to do this specific disease because it’s
such a big cause,” she said. “It just affects so many women. All around our area, companies are doing it, and for me, it hit home.”
She said Back in the Swing plays a bigger role in the fight against cancer than most people might think.
“You hear about how the month of October is Back in the Swing so I’m assuming it is going to bring lots and lots of business,” she said. “Back in the Swing has just been so amazing to us.”
Manzo also said working with Back in the Swing has been a great experience for the store.
“They do a lot of the leg work,” Manzo said. “They get all the information out. Not only on Brighton, but just to make women all over know that it is breast cancer month.”
She said seeing costumers come in with amazing stories has made her understand how it can change your life.
“You get a special connection [with the costum- ers],” she said. “There are a lot of tears but also a lot of joy because you can survive cancer.”