2017-11-01 / Shorts

Think Pink

Real Men On Campus at Penn State beefs up breast cancer awareness efforts
Robyn Passante

Until about a month ago, Penn State senior lecturer Kirk French had no idea that 1 in 8 U.S. women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

“I would have guessed it was more like 1 in 20,” says the anthropology professor, who traded in his closet of black for some pink last month as part of Real Men on Campus of Penn State, a breast cancer awareness and fundraising initiative for the American Cancer Society.

“Men wanted a greater presence in the breast cancer community, because even though breast cancer is uncommon for men, they’ve had women in their lives touched by breast cancer,” says Eden Gilligan, Community Development Manager of the ACS Northeast Region.

So Gilligan and her team worked with two prominent student groups at Penn State, University Park: Relay for Life and Coaches vs. Cancer, to bring the male-driven Real Men Wear Pink fundraising initiative to State College this October. University staff and faculty members like French, along with male student leaders and others, signed on to be “candidates” for the cause. In doing so, they were asked to wear something pink every day in October — the ACS gave the men pink bracelets, socks and lapel pins to help them meet that criterion — and raise at least $500 each to go toward breast cancer initiatives funded by the ACS.

The goal was 20 candidates, and by the beginning of October they had 38 wanting to be involved — including men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers, Penn State wrestling broadcaster Jeff Byers, the Penn State men’s lacrosse team working together as one “candidate,” 15 male Lion Ambassadors also working as a team, and local celebrity Mike “The Mailman” Herr.

The campaign’s goal is $12,500, and the candidates’ efforts will be recognized during a break in the Penn State men’s basketball game against Columbia on Nov. 17.

“It was an honor to be asked,” says French, who surpassed his initial $500 fundraising goal in the first days of the campaign and had subsequently raised his personal goal to $2,500. “It’s hard to find someone that hasn’t been affected by breast cancer specifically, or just cancer in general.”

Return to top