Painting Hamden Pink
In honor of breast cancer awareness month this October, Hamden is literally painted pink.
Hamden resident Nancy Juliano spearheaded the Paint Hamden Pink initiative last year after she volunteered to help the daughter of one of her friends who was chairing the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.
Juliano said Paint Hamden Pink started off small, with a planning committee of, what she said, was everyone she knew. She went door to door to businesses, asking for donations.
“I realized that most of what I was gathering were from Hamden businesses,” Juliano said.
She then went to the Hamden Chamber of Commerce and to Hamden Mayor Curt Leng and told him about the generosity she found amongst members of the Hamden community. Juliano believed they deserved some recognition.
Her and her husband brainstormed ideas and came up with Paint Hamden Pink. They designed posters with a paint brush and brought one to each business that gave a donation to hang in windows or store fronts as a thank you.
Other businesses purchased banners as a donation, including the Hamden Town Hall and Hamden Auto Body. A traveling banner can also be seen at every Paint Hamden Pink event around town.
Now, a list of restaurants and businesses have agreed to donate part of their proceeds to Paint Hamden Pink and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October. The Paint Hamden Pink committee now has over 30 members, all volunteers; some who even work full-time jobs, but still give their time to this cause.
Juliano said when she first approached business owners about donating, they wanted to come up with something creative. This year, Glenwood Drive-In is selling pink ketchup and pink lemonade, and next door at Kelly’s Cone Connection, customers can get pink sprinkles and eat their ice cream with pink spoons.
Aunt Chilada’s is making TaTa margaritas and donating $1 from every one sold. Rainbow Cleaners is donating $1 for every pink tie cleaned in October. Some of the restaurants around town have donated part of the proceeds from each check on a certain day in October.
Other businesses have been willing to donate to the cause without hesitation. Ixtapa gave Juliano $500 in gift cards, Corner Deli donated $250 and Bread and Chocolate gave her $300 worth of their tips as a donation.
“I have to say it has never been depressing going door to door asking,” Juliano said. “At first, I hesitated to go and ask people for things just isn’t part of my nature. But I’m not asking for myself. So right away when people find out what I’m doing they start telling stories, like ‘Oh, my mother or my aunt has breast cancer. We need to be a part of finding this cure.’ People are very positive and very supportive of what we’re doing.”
Aside from local businesses getting involved, specks of pink can be seen all around town. There are pink bows hung outside the town hall and fire station.
Two Hamden Police cruisers are also decked out in pink this month. Century Sign in Hamden wrapped two of the cars in pink using a vinyl temporary wrap. There are also purple wrapped cars in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month. The pink cruisers have been seen at multiple different community events this month including the Food Truck Festival at the Hamden Town Center Park on Oct. 5.
The cruisers were at the Making Strides walk on Sunday, and anyone was welcome to sign one of the cars with permanent marker.
An unknown source painted pink ribbons on some streets in Hamden. Juliano said nobody knows who is doing it. She said she did mention it to Mayor Leng and he just smiled.
“We think it’s a magical fairy that’s doing that,” Juliano said. “We can’t quite pinpoint the person who spearheaded that. So, it’s a mystery and I like leaving it that way.”
The Hamden Soccer Association organized and hosted Hamden Soccer Goes Pink in support of breast cancer awareness this weekend. Teresa Valenti and her husband
Anthony, who coaches one of the teams, helped put on the pink-themed games on Saturday. Mayor Curt Leng proclaimed Oct. 13, 2018 as Hamden Goes Pink day.
Pedro Rosado from Walt’s Trooper Factory created and donated a pink Storm Trooper helmet from Star Wars: A New Hope. It was raffled off at the soccer games to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
The kickoff event for this year’s Paint Hamden Pink event was on Sept. 20 at the Hamden Farmers Market, where town residents were encouraged to participate in the Making Strides Walk in New Haven. School officials announced how they would raise awareness inside the classroom, and Hamden Mayor Curt Leng proclaimed Sept. 20 2018 as “Real Men Wear Pink Day,” in support of the American Cancer Society’s fundraising efforts aimed towards men.
The American Cancer Society also reminds people that women aren’t the only ones affected by breast cancer. Through Real Men Wear Pink, men raise money for the cause. The Real Men Wear Pink of Greater New Haven has raised $9,295 as of Tuesday evening. Quinnipiac’s Beta Theta Pi (Beta) fraternity donated $7,839 to the American Cancer Society after raising money throughout the semester. The majority of the funds came from Beta’s annual spring event Stand Up Against Cancer. The American Cancer Society is Beta’s philanthropic partner.
“The Real Men Wear Pink campaign means a lot to me because I feel like it targets all people to help with the movement,” Vice President of Programming for Beta senior Kyle Lopez said. “To me, if there are people going through struggles who don’t have a family or friends for support, and if I can offer that support in any way, that’s all that matters.”
Beta also works with different organizations to host other philanthropic events throughout the year to raise for other specific cancer funds.
“We want to get more of Quinnipiac involved with this movement and the American Cancer Society because it’s a cause where you directly see the impact of your hard work,” Lopez said. “The community that backs you is incredible and unlike any other.”
Other organizations at Quinnipiac are putting on breast cancer awareness events this month. The Sigma Beta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will sell baked goods in effort to end breast cancer on Oct. 18 and 19 in the Carl Hansen Student Center.
Dance Company will sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts on Oct. 18 to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Dance Company also donates part of funds raised at its annual Sweetheart competition on Nov. 5.
The Main Event
The main event of the month is the Making Strides of Greater New Haven walk at Lighthouse Point Park. American Cancer Society Community Development Manager Graham Kobs said this is the eleventh year the walk has taken place at the park. Last year, walk participants raised over $100,000.
This year, hundreds of people gathered at the park on Sunday. One hundred thirty-three teams of over 600 participants raised $56,545 for the Making Strides of Greater New Haven walk as of Tuesday evening.
Lobbyists pushed for legislation reform on laws such as the age limit on purchasing tobacco and aimed to make people aware of funding being cut on the state and federal levels.
“Grants to the National Institutes of Health are being cut, grants for research are being cut and being distributed elsewhere,” said Dr. Sherlet Kurian with Legislative Ambassadors of the American Cancer Network. “It’s really a grassroots effort to keep our funding. This is what we have to do, we have to fight everywhere.”
There was a survivor luncheon for survivors and their caregivers in the carousel building at Lighthouse Point. Survivors were honored with sashes and roses and were personally escorted into the building.
“The number one feedback that I get from the survivors that attend that having that escort, having that sash, having that rose is such special feeling for them,” Kobs said.
Anthony’s Ocean View and Cascade Fine Catering provided 100 percent of the food for the survivor reception. Members of Sacred Heart’s chapter of the Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) women’s fraternity served food as a part of their volunteer efforts with breast cancer awareness events.
“We mainly work with survivors and get to connect with them,” ZTA volunteer Dominique Newton said. “We volunteer to help them through this.”
Kobs said the American Cancer Society tries to get as much donated for these events so the money raised by participants can be given back to the organization to be spent on research, programs and services.
Photos by Jessica Ruderman