Paint the Town Pink 2021 kicks off

Business After Hours introduces events, ambassador for the cancer research campaign

AUSTIN, Minn – January 12, 2020 – The 2021 Paint the Town Pink cancer research fundraising season was kicked off tonight with the annual Chamber of Commerce’s January “Business After Hours” event. The virtual meeting was cohosted by The Hormel Institute, UMN and Hy-Vee Austin. The event included greetings from the new Executive Director Dr. Robert Clarke, updates from current researchers and plans for 2021 Paint the Town Pink.

“Despite this environment where businesses and people are still hurting from the effects of COVID-19, we want to celebrate the work that is being done thanks to PTTP and our generous community,” said Gail Dennison, Director of Development and Public Relations.

“The past 11 years have raised over $2 million with every penny going to innovative studies to further understand and stop cancer.  All who support this research through donations of any amount can know they are doing something important and making a difference – we all want to stop cancer so people can live longer, healthier lives.”

Dr. Robert Clarke shared the importance of community support to fund innovative studies for preliminary data, Dr. Amer Alam gave a “deep dive” tour of the CryoEM, the world’s most powerful electron microscope,  Dr. Sergio Gradilone, a Paint the Town Pink grant recipient, shared how research is furthered through Paint the Town Pink support, and Dr. Ted Hinchcliffe talked of the importance of community support.

Kathi Finley, director of Paint the Town Pink and Craig Patrick, owner of the Bruins, shared their gratitude to the community and gratitude at what PTTP has grown into, supporting research that aims to extend human lives.

The 2021 ambassador was announced, and has a unique perspective on her cancer journey. Dr. Rebecca Morris, professor and leader of the Stem Cells and Cancer lab at The Hormel Institute, will serve as this year’s Paint the Town Pink ambassador. Dr. Morris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and shared with the chamber membership firsthand the importance of funding cancer research, this time from two perspectives.

“It is an honor for me to serve as an ambassador, knowing full well how important funding is so we researchers can do the work to further understand and aim to control cancer, and now my journey reflects an understanding from the survivor side. My diagnosis and treatment has me more thankful than ever for the past progress in research leading to therapies and the early detection that saves and extends lives.” Dr. Morris has also been a recipient of PTTP grants.

Kathi Finley, Paint the Town Pink director, thanked past fundraisers and businesses that have supported Paint the Town Pink. This year will not be the same as years past due to the limitations of COVID-19.

“This is not a year to ask small businesses that are hurting or individuals that have been struggling to donate or host events that they normally would,” said Dennison.

“This is a year where we want to just provide some fun and interesting things for people to do, and remind all of you that every dollar matters and helps accelerate answers to cancer.”

Due to COVID-19, some of the annual Paint the Town Pink events, such as Plunging for Pink and Fishing for a Cure have been cancelled for 2021. However, the Austin Bruins are moving forward with Paint the Rink Pink, moving it to sometime this spring. The KAUS Radiothon and a number of other fundraisers are also planning to continue in 2021.

Paint the Town Pink has raised over $2 million for cancer research at The Hormel Institute since 2011, funding 15 Paint the Town Pink seed grants to date. These seed grants fund new and exciting cancer research, allowing scientists to start research and gather initial data that can be used to apply for larger, national grant funding.

More information on Paint the Town Pink and upcoming events can be found at