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Pink Ribbon volunteers needed

Pink Ribbon Day volunteer Anna Keen and her mum Raewyn collecting in 2020. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

John Lazo-Ron
[email protected]

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s biggest annual fundraising campaign, the Pink Ribbon Street Appeal, is at risk of being canned in Carterton and Featherston this month if much-needed volunteers can’t be found.

Ten thousand Pink Ribbon volunteers across New Zealand will take to the streets on October 29 and 30 to collect donations for breast cancer research, education and patient support.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Kiwi women.

But the appeal may have to be cancelled in some Wairarapa towns unless volunteer area co-ordinators can be urgently found to oversee local collection sites.

Area co-ordinators manage small teams of collectors and are supplied with all materials needed to look after their local sites.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ chief executive Ah-Leen Rayner said covid-19 disruptions were the main reason their fundraising/volunteer efforts had been rocked in the region.

“As a charity that receives no government funding, we rely entirely on the generosity of New Zealanders to keep our vital work going,” she said.

“But once again, the uncertainty caused by covid-19 lockdowns has dealt a crushing blow to our fundraising efforts. And without more volunteers in the Wairarapa, we can’t run our street appeal here.”

Masterton-based Pink Ribbon collecting volunteer Anna Keen understands the pain and difficulties of breast cancer, having seen her mother Raewyn deal with the disease twice in her lifetime.

She now vigorously gives up her time to collect for the appeal, knowing well that the funding accumulated is “absolutely life-saving”.

“When I was 11 years old, my mum had her first diagnosis of breast cancer, and she needed a drug that wasn’t yet publicly funded,” she said.

“So the community fundraised for mum. From memory, the treatment cost $120,000. People put on shows in the park, an auction was done, there were helicopter rides plus so much more and all of the money went to mum.

“There were buckets around all the shops and petrol stations, so it was pretty amazing. It saved her life.”

Being so young back then, Keen felt like she wasn’t a lot of help but now uses the Pink Ribbon Appeal as her way of giving back.

“This is my opportunity to give back to a charity that has helped my family, along with so many other amazing people I know.”

Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time in lockdown last year but has since recovered.

Anna is now calling for Wairarapa people to rally together and give up one hour of their time for a good cause that significantly affects women in Wairarapa.

Each year, around 40 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the Wairarapa District Health Board area, and every year about seven will die from it.

“Breast cancer always affects somebody you know,” she said.

“It’s absolutely life-saving for families and not only women but men as well. I think if you were to turn to your boss and say, ‘hey, do you mind if I take an hour out to go volunteer to collect’, surely people will turn around and say that’s ok.

“Even if you can do it in your lunch break, it’s nice to get out in your community. And you don’t even have to ask for money. This affects so many people, I’m confident people will be generous enough and willing to donate to you.”

Rayner agreed, saying a few hours of your time would make a significant difference in someone’s life who is battling breast cancer.

“By giving up a few hours you’ll be making a huge difference in the fight against breast cancer. The money raised will help to save lives through cutting-edge research, the promotion of early detection and supporting patients through their treatment and recovery.”

Keen said if the appeal were to be cancelled, it would be “utmost devastating”.

“It would be extremely disappointing if they had to cancel the Pink Ribbon Collection Day because you don’t know when you’ll need it.

“It’s important that we all get behind this and support the appeal so it can help many struggling families.”

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ said volunteer collectors were needed throughout the entire region.

To volunteer for the Pink Ribbon Street Appeal, please visit pinkribbonvolunteer.org.nz, email [email protected] or phone 0508 105 105.

People can also donate online at www.pinkribbonappeal.co.nz

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