Donations support cutting-edge breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute

Hormel Institute PTTP 2014 Check Presentation

On Monday, Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute (left), thanks members from some of this year’s “Paint the Town Pink” fundraising events in support of the Institute’s breast cancer research at an event to announce the grand total of $162,300 raised by the 2014 PTTP initiative.

More than $162,000 was raised in support of cutting-edge breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute through the 4th annual “Paint the Town Pink” initiative that concluded in late February, officials announced today.

Leaders with The Hormel Institute and “Paint the Town Pink” steering committee unveiled the 2014 PTTP grand total to date of $162,300 while joined by representatives from PTTP fundraisers in the Institute lobby. That amount – mostly raised during the official PTTP week of Feb. 14-23 – topped the goal of $150,000 and was much higher than the $115,260 raised in 2013.

Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute, expressed his deepest gratitude to everyone in the Austin area and beyond who gave their support to the cause or helped to organize an event.

“It is very inspirational to our scientists to have this level of community support,” said Dong. “This donation of vital research funding is a gift to all us as breast cancer affects so many lives and families. To all who helped and all who supported, please know we are highly grateful for the significant awareness and support raised through ‘Paint the Town Pink and we will continue our progress to advance cancer research and find answers.”

In four years, the “Paint the Town Pink” efforts have raised nearly $362,500 overall in support for The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned breast cancer research in Austin. Gail Dennison, director of development and public relations for The Hormel Institute, said the 2014 funds will support the seven two-year seed grants awarded to Institute scientists in 2013.

This year’s top fundraising events were the Vision 2020 Waterways’ 2nd annual “Plunging for Pink” polar plunge at East Side Lake; the Austin Bruins’ 4th annual “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game (fourth-consecutive sellout); the inaugural KAUS-AM “Pledging for Pink” radiothon (a portion of its donation will support general cancer research); the community of Brownsdale’s first “Paint the Town Pink” initiative; the Hormel Foods Austin Plant’s fundraising; and the 12th annual “Fishing for a Cure” ice fishing contest.

Other highlights from this year’s PTTP included the Mower County Fair Board organizing a first winter demolition derby at the fairgrounds’ grandstand; the Austin High School winter sports teams hosting “pink” fundraisers; and the communities of Brownsdale and Rose Creek hosting the first rural “Paint the Town Pink” efforts.

“We had an outstanding lineup of pink events this year that proved to be tons of fun while also very meaningful,” said Kathi Finley, following her first year of directing “Paint the Town Pink.” “Many tributes were made at these events to those who have survived breast cancer, those who are battling it now and those who passed away from it. Research is the only answer to cancer, and as a community, we can keep working hard to grow this effort to support The Hormel Institute’s cancer research.”

“Paint the Town Pink” started in 2011 with just the inaugural “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game by the Austin Bruins, which drew a sellout crowd and raised more than $22,000 for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research. In 2012, following an idea instigated by the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau board, a local steering committee expanded the Bruins’ pink efforts into a larger Austin-area initiative that raised $62,500 that year. Every year, PTTP has grown in events, participants and donations.

PTTP donations raised in 2011 and 2012 supported the acquisition of cutting-edge technology for The Hormel Institute’s researchers to use in accelerating discoveries for breast cancer research. Funds from the 2013 PTTP were distributed as seven “seed” grants to scientists at The Hormel Institute for breast cancer research. Grant recipients were chosen by a University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center review panel, and those funds are helping scientists conduct preliminary work that will enable them to better seek much larger grants for breast cancer research.

This year’s PTTP steering committee included representatives from The Hormel Institute, Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Austin, Austin Bruins, Mower County Fair Board, Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin, Vision 2020 Waterways Committee, Riverland Community College and the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

PTTP organizers are seeking ideas for improving and growing “Paint the Town Pink” in 2015, including expanding PTTP into other communities. Anyone with ideas or who would like to participate in next year’s “Paint the Town Pink” are encouraged to contact PTTP director Kathi Finley at 460-0259 or