Growing events support saving lives through The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research

Organizers are seeking to top the $500,000 mark in overall fundraising for five years with the upcoming 5th annual “Paint the Town Pink” initiative to raise awareness and support for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research.

Since 2011, the Austin area’s “Paint the Town Pink” efforts have raised more than $362,000 for breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota in Austin. It all started with the only event in 2011 being the first Austin Bruins “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game that raised more than $22,000.
Funds raised through PTTP in 2011 and 2012 went toward acquiring technology to accelerate breast cancer research. Donations the past two years have been distributed as “seed” grants to researchers at The Hormel Institute for new breast cancer projects. These funds greatly help researchers explore new ideas and gather preliminary data vital for seeking major research grants.

While directed at breast cancer, PTTP-funded research includes projects that affect other types of cancers as well.
“Our aim with research is to improve and extend life, and I want our community to know that their support of research continues to support discoveries leading to cancer prevention and people living longer with cancer,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, executive director of The Hormel Institute. “Seed grants leading to major grants give these PTTP funds an even greater impact.”

PTTP organizers are kicking off the 2015 festivities this evening (Jan. 13) at The Hormel Institute with their annual pink event with the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours.” Hy-Vee is co-sponsoring the event with The Hormel Institute. This year’s PTTP honorees are the Rodney & Susan Ryks family. Susan Ryks is a breast cancer survivor, and her family has been significantly involved in PTTP fundraising and events.

Austin’s “Paint the Town Pink” officially will run from Jan. 31 to Feb. 8, featuring pink flags and ribbons throughout the city along with numerous “pink” events, including the marquee event – the Austin Bruins’ 5th annual “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game Feb. 7 at Riverside Arena. Each year, “Paint the Rink Pink” draws a sellout crowd of 2,000 with its game on pink ice that features a post-game pink jersey auction. Overall, the Bruins have raised about $125,000 in four years for the Institute’s breast cancer research.

PTTP organizers also are hoping to attract the first $5,000 winning bid on a jersey during the post-game auction in recognition of the 5th anniversary of the Bruins’ “Paint the Rink Pink” and Austin’s “Paint the Town Pink.”

“We have grown substantially over the years and have expanded the lineup of events and supporting communities for 2015 even further,” PTTP Director Kathi Finley said. “We truly are excited for the great fun ahead as well as for the meaningful moments and tributes that help remind us all why we are supporting this important cause.”

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States when excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers and is the second-leading cause of death by cancer, with more than 40,000 deaths estimated per year.

The 3rd annual “Plunging for Pink” polar plunge, which has raised more than $55,000 in two years and attracted over 200 plungers a year ago, will be Jan. 31 at East Side Lake. Vision 2020 Waterways, Austin Parks & Recreation and Austin Fire Department put on the event. A first-time Snowmobile Speed Run also will take place earlier that same day on the lake.

Other major PTTP events will include the first Dad’s Belgian Waffles fundraiser Feb. 1 at the Austin Eagles Club; Matchbox Children’s Theatre’s “The Pale Pink Dragon” on Feb. 6-8 at Paramount Theatre; the 13th annual “Fishing for a Cure” on Feb. 7 at East Side Lake; the 2nd annual “Smashing Cancer” demolition derby and YMCA 5K run/walk both on Feb. 8 at the Mower County Fairgrounds; and the Sweetheart Dinner featuring singer Sena Ehrhardt on Feb. 14 at the Hormel Historic Home.

Austin High athletics also will have an array of pink-themed fundraising games/meets including gymnastics on Jan. 27; wrestling Jan. 29; girls hockey Jan. 29; boys hockey Jan. 31; girls basketball Feb. 3; and boys basketball Feb. 6.

A complete list of events, business fundraisers and more is available online at . “Paint the Town Pink” and various other PTTP groups also have Facebook pages updated frequently.

Five new communities also will be offering pink events for the first time this year for PTTP’s 5th anniversary. Adams will host its first “Paint the Town Pink” festivities, which started this month and run through Feb. 12. Lansing and Oakland participated this fall in the first “Corn for the Cure” fundraising at harvest and there will be PTTP-related events in Albert Lea and Blooming Prairie. Brownsdale PTTP and Rose Creek PTTP also will return with events Feb. 20-22.

Anyone who has ideas or is interested in participating in the 2015 PTTP is encouraged to contact PTTP Director Kathi Finley at 507-460-0259 or by email at