Colors of Cancer: Spreading hope through a grassroots approach

Sometimes the best approach of getting anything accomplished is sharing a fine idea and then getting out of the way as people step forward to do big things.

That’s what happened with the Colors of Cancer campaign.

Back in 2011, folks at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital wanted to do something to raise awareness about breast cancer in the community and find a way to ensure that women could get the screenings that could save their lives.

And so they came together to create the Sprinkle Pink campaign that raised money for the Bitterroot Valley’s Aid for Mammography Fund. During the month of October, the hospital agreed to match donations.

The campaign was so successful that others in the community affected in different ways from a variety of cancers started thinking about expanding that effort.

In 2018, they came together to create the Colors of Cancer campaign that recognized 24 different forms of cancers. Each cancer was assigned a color and teams came together to create different types of fundraisers that helped raise awareness, encourage preventive care, celebrate survivors and remember those who have died.

As the development director of Daly Hospital Foundation, Stacie Duce has seen the power that comes from a dedicated group of volunteers working together toward a goal in which they all believe.

“You have this vision of what is needed at the hospital to help people impacted by cancer,” Duce said. “And then you combine that with all these people who want to give in a grassroots way. You just have to let go and watch what happens.”

People of all ages stepped forward to put together fundraisers and events that ranged from a 5K run to a survivors' walk.

“This is really all about spreading hope,” Duce said.

This year’s campaign started last week with a lunch event at the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital that offered people a chance to see the handmade quilts, which include handprints of cancer survivors, created by the foundation’s co-director Mary Woods.

It will include weekly events like a Thursday pint night at HigherGround Brewing and one on Saturday at Naps.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Wild Wendy’s Bake Sale will be held at the Canyons Athletic Club, and Valley Drug will host a Colors of Cancer barbecue. Pink Ladies Night will follow on Thursday at the Hamilton Market Place. And the Canyons will host a Sprinkle Pink Tennis Tournament on Oct 11-13.

The second annual 5k Fun Run/Survivor’s Walk will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Evans Ace Hardware will host a Grill for the Gold barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 19, to support donations for childhood cancer. On Thursday, Oct. 24, the Bitterroot School of Cosmetology will host the Golden Locks Donation event.

Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital will host the Art and More silent auction on Oct. 24-25.

On Oct. 27, the events will wrap up with the Turn & Burn Barrel Race at the Sapphire Event Center in Corvallis.

And those are just the events already in the works. Last year Duce said she received checks from different organizations that she had no idea were planning their own Colors of Cancer event.

“We had some high school kids who kind of went crazy last year,” she said. “Two high school students from Hamilton and Stevensville each raised $1,500. … It offered an opportunity to see the kind of impact that they could have in a short period of time.

“I received checks from events that I didn’t even know were happening,” she said.

Last year, including the hospital’s match, the campaign raised almost $51,000.

Duce said the hospital’s new CEO, John Bishop, has been very supportive of the campaign. The money that’s raised is used in a variety of different ways, including helping people pay for screenings or buying equipment for new specialists setting up practices in Hamilton.

In September, a general surgeon skilled in performing colonoscopies and endoscopies set up practice in Hamilton. A dermatologist is expected to start her own practice in the middle of the month.

“Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital encourages the community to get cancer screenings on a regular basis,” said Amy James-Linton, the hospital’s marketing and communications director. “Cancer is preventable if we all work together to catch it early.”

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