It hasn’t taken long for Pink Aid to make an impact on Long Island. The non-profit, which provides grants to local organizations that help uninsured or underinsured women battling breast cancer with household bills, meals, wigs, screenings and other support services, began in Connecticut five years ago and opened a Long Island chapter last year. At its first annual luncheon and fashion show, Pink Aid sold out, raised $225,000 and provided grants to six organizations, including the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition and the Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center Breast Cancer Survivorship Coalition.
“It blew everybody away,” co-founder Ali Mitchell said. “I don’t think anyone thought we could raise as much money and make as much of an impact as we did.”
This year, the show sold out four weeks in advance of its Oct. 15 date. A wait list option and high-level sponsorship opportunities are available. It’s a good problem for Pink Aid, which is accepting grant applications until Nov. 20, because quite simply: the word is out.
“Last year, $225,000 went a long way,” Mitchell said. “Every day I find out about new organizations that need our help. Every year I feel like there is going to be an increase in pressure for us to raise more money because it’s out there, the bar has been raised.”
The bar hasn’t just been raised because of sold-out events and dollars collected. It’s been raised because of where that money has gone and what it’s done in such a short period of time. Because of Pink Aid, Maurer Foundation for Breast Health Education, one of the 2014 grant recipients, is starting a Bilingual Outreach Program to promote breast health awareness, including how to perform a self breast exam, to women who are uninsured or in financial need across Long Island. Another, the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition, is able to provide wigs to women going through chemotherapy.
“To be able to give a woman like that a wig and she doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for it, let it be covered by Pink Aid funds, is meaningful,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell and every member on the Pink Aid committee know the importance of proper treatment and compassion. They have all either battled breast cancer themselves or know someone who did. For Mitchell, it was her husband’s mother and grandmother.
“Being a part of Pink Aid is a very empowering experience,” Mitchell said. “Even though breast cancer is a difficult diagnosis and isn’t something we would want anyone we love to go through, being part of Pink Aid, we’re able to empower ourselves to know that we can make a difference in a lot of women’s lives.”
And the fact that they’re doing it locally is special.
“I think cancer is something that touches so many of us, and it’s very personal,” Mitchell said. “To be able to help a neighbor that’s battling breast cancer just feels right.”