Have you ever felt so frustrated at a situation yet powerless to change it at the same time?
That’s exactly how I felt in October of 2014.
Like many other organizations in October, the NFL was decked out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. There were pink gloves, pink jersey accents, pink banners…the list goes on. I’d never thought too much of it before. I assumed the NFL was raising quite a bit of money and giving it to a foundation somewhere that was doing something to help fight breast cancer.
Then, I stumbled across an article on Vice with the headline “The NFL’s Pink October Does Not Raise Money for Breast Cancer.”1 I was confused. How could such high visibility fail to raise hardly a dime? I read on:
In fact, the NFL’s claim of 100 percent proceeds from auction and 100 percent proceeds from retail has translated to an average of just $1.1 million every year since they partnered with ACS six years ago. That’s less than .01 percent of the approximately $10 billion the league made in revenue last year.
That’s disappointing. $1.1 million is certainly a lot of money, but it feels small when your organization pulls in $10 billion a year. This floored me even more:
“The money that we receive from NFL has nothing to do with our research program,” ACS spokeswoman Tara Peters told VICE Sports.
Jagger quotes well-regarded and independently conducted research that shows screening mammography has no overall impact on survival rates of women with the disease.
I felt cheated. The article finished with a rather somber call to action:
If you’d really like to sleep well, donating directly to a cancer charity that is more transparent may be a better idea.
Immediately, I shared this with all of my close friends and family members. It became a talking point of conversation. There had to be a better way.
If left to me, the idea would have stayed an idea. There are dozens of injustices we face on a daily basis, but it feels next to impossible for one single individual to make an impact. Right?
Alex and I were sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Denver wasting time before we were set to start an adventure race through the city. As I had with countless others, I shared the Vice story and how frustrated I felt.
I threw out an idea: What if we raised money through pink beer? We could get local breweries to dye their beer pink (highly visible) and serve it in taprooms and in bottles throughout the month of October. The proceeds would go 100% to research, not awareness.
Alex has two amazing characteristics that come into play at this point:
- He’s really good at getting people excited about an idea.
- He’s a doer, not just a dreamer.
We immediately started thinking through how it would work. Could we really ask breweries to dye their beer pink? Do we know anyone that runs a brewery? Would pink bottle caps have the same effect?
The discussion centered around breast cancer research, but the idea was much larger. We were operating on the hunch that average individuals like he and I could have extraordinary impacts. After going back and forth on names for a bit, Drink for Pink was born.
Since that day, we’ve been fortunate to connect with some amazing individuals. Allison Krebs and Dr. Virginia Borges at Anschutz Medical Campus in Colorado have been exceptionally generous with their time educating us on the state of medical research and some exciting projects in the field of breast cancer.
Gary Reece, President of the Cancer League of Colorado, was kind enough to hear our idea out and even allow us to partner with the Cancer League rather than establish our own non-profit out of the gate.
Our amazing board members, Noah Ward, Matt Kulbe, and Geoff Sawtell, have been instrumental in making introductions and helping us turn this idea into a living, breathing organization.
We’re still committed to making an extraordinary impact while also building a charity you can trust. We’re going to do things a bit differently. For one, we’ll be publishing a transparency report of where every dime goes. We’re trying to make a difference, not a profit. We will also be publishing real stories of ground-breaking research benefiting from your donations.
That’s our story, and it’s just getting started.
Look for future events, specifically during the month of October, in and around Denver, Colorado. Want to help out? Join us.