Goal to raise $150,000 for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research

2014 Paint the Town Pink Austin MN

Volunteers for the annual “Paint the Town Pink” initiative announced today their goal to raise $150,000 in February to support The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned breast cancer research.

Recognizing today as the six-month mark from the start of the 2014 festival, members of the “Paint the Town Pink” steering committee released details about the upcoming “Paint the Town Pink” festival – planned for Feb. 14-23 – and gave updates on the breast cancer research funded by 2013 PTTP efforts.

PTTP leaders said they plan to grow PTTP in 2014 by adding new events and expanding the 10-day festival’s fundraising and awareness efforts to other communities surrounding Austin.

“The Hormel Institute’s cancer research benefits everyone in Minnesota and beyond,” said new PTTP director Kathi Finley. “Many new ideas already are under consideration and we definitely welcome participation from everyone in Austin and surrounding areas to help bring even more fun to the festival while raising vital dollars for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research.”

Earlier this year, the 2nd annual “Paint the Town Pink” initiative raised more than $115,000 for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research, topping a goal of $100,000. The 2013 total was nearly double the amount raised in 2012 by the first PTTP, which was an extension of the Austin Bruins hockey team’s first “Paint the Rink Pink” fundraising game in 2011.

Donations from the “pink” fundraising in 2011 and 2012 helped support the acquisition of cutting-edge technology for The Hormel Institute’s researchers to use in accelerating discoveries for breast cancer research, said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute.

Funds from the 2013 PTTP were distributed a few months ago in the form of seven grants to seven scientists at The Hormel Institute for breast cancer research. Grant recipients were chosen by a review panel at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. Known as “seed grants,” these funds will help Institute researchers conduct work that will enable them to better seek significantly larger grants for breast cancer research.

“This outstanding annual support from our community is now funding vital new research and will also hopefully lead to additional major grant funding for breast cancer research projects,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “All of the hard work by the hundreds of people involved with ‘Paint the Town Pink’ is deeply appreciated by all of us. It is so very important in furthering our breast cancer research and as our community understands through their support, our goal is to make progress to stop the suffering and devastating loss caused by breast cancer.”

The 2014 PTTP will start on Valentine’s Day – Feb. 14 – and conclude with a weekend highlighted by the festival’s cornerstone event: the Austin Bruins’ “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Bruins’ game, featuring pink ice and pink hockey jerseys auctioned after the game – began in 2011 to raise money for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research and, due its great success, led to a citywide “pink” initiative in 2012.

Each year, pink flags and pink ribbons have been featured throughout Austin during “Paint the Town Pink,” as various businesses and organizations offer pink-related fundraisers and activities during the week-long initiative.

The “Plunging for Pink” polar plunge at Austin’s East Side Lake also will return to the 2014 festival but, as with other PTTP events, a date is not yet finalized.

PTTP members also today honored the memory of Barb Hovey-Nelson, a 2013 PTTP committee member who spoke to the crowd from center ice at “Paint the Rink Pink” last February. Hovey-Nelson passed away April 28 at age 47 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. Her name has been added to The Hormel Institute’s Cancer Memorial Wall.

“Barb brought so much passion and energy to ‘Paint the Town Pink’ and shared her personal battle with breast cancer in hopes of helping to bring about more awareness and funding for fighting this horrible disease,” Finley said. “Barb’s memory and personality will continue to help all of us fight back against breast cancer.”

“Paint the Town Pink” funds go 100 percent directly to supporting The Hormel Institute’s cutting-edge research into ways to prevent and control breast cancer. By matching these funds with other funds from cancer research foundations and the University of Minnesota, The Hormel Institute has purchased technology that can be used to accelerate breast cancer research.

PTTP steering committee members include representatives from The Hormel Institute, Austin Bruins, Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Austin, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mayo Clinic Health System, Riverland Community College, Vision 2020 Waterways Committee, and Austin Community Learning Center.

Anyone who has ideas or is interested in participating in the 2014 PTTP is encouraged to contact Finley at 507-460-0259 or by email at GoPTTP@gmail.com. You also can follow PTTP updates on its Facebook page online at: www.facebook.com/austinpttp

The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, is a world-renowned medical research center in Austin, Minn., focused on discoveries leading to the prevention and control of cancer.

In July 2013, The Hormel Foundation announced a $23 million commitment toward The Hormel Institute’s next major expansion set to break ground in 2014. The expansion will add needed laboratories and space for its International Center of Research Technology. The Hormel Foundation will provide $13.5 million in funding as a match to the State of Minnesota’s bonding for the expansion and an additional $9.5 million for recruiting top scientists, equipping labs with state-of-the-art technologies, and creating a cutting-edge environment for progressive cancer research.

Currently, leaders at The Hormel Institute are hiring three new cancer research sections to fill the remaining lab space created by the Institute’s 2006-2008 major expansion. The Hormel Foundation contributed $16.7 million toward the 2006-2008 project that tripled the Institute’s size and allowed space for doubling the number of faculty and staff jobs.