TIPP CITY — The road to recovery from breast cancer is one that isn’t traveled alone, thanks to local organization Pink Ribbon Girls.
Founded by Tracie Metzger, Pink Ribbon Girls began when she discovered through her own diagnosis there was no specific group for young women dealing with breast cancer. Heather Salazar, executive director of the organization, brought Pink Ribbon Girls to the Dayton area in 2011 under its own branch — and with it, she brought a new initiative.
“Pink Ribbon Girls was very different before I came on board. It was more of just an awareness organization, and I really just wanted to do free, direct services. We kind of changed what it is — this is what it is now, and these are the services we provide,” Salazar said.
These services, provided to women afflicted with breast cancer and other reproductive cancers and their families, include three fully prepared meals a week for the family, two house cleanings a month and 20 rides to treatment. In 2015, Pink Ribbon Girls provided 50,096 meals, 503 house cleanings, and 975 rides to treatment for women in the area.
According to Salazar, they expect to provide 60,000 meals, more than 150,000 house cleanings, and 2,025 rides to treatment this year. It is estimated that Pink Ribbon Girls will serve between 13,00-15,000 families in 2016.
“We want to help the family lighten the load so they can simply fight,” Salazar said.
With these services being provided free of charge to women and families affected by breast cancer, Pink Ribbon Girls’ funding is done primarily through donations and fundraising. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month — or “Pinktober,” as Pink Ribbon Girls has appropriately dubbed it — the fundraising started early in September and will continue into early November as local businesses take part in aiding with the fight against breast cancer.
“We had a big event at UD that raised over $400,000, then our BW3’s event and things like that will raise money,” Salazar said. “ We raise probably about 50 percent of our fundraising in October.”
In addition to the direct services Pink Ribbon Girls provides for those afflicted with breast cancer, the organization offers a strong community and support system for women fighting breast cancer and survivors alike. This is done through events like coffee talks, which serve as a safe-space environment for survivors and those afflicted with breast cancer can share their stories, as well as public speaking forums, community events, and collaborations done with other organizations.
For more information about the local Pink Ribbon Girls chapter, visit pinkribbongirls.org, email [email protected] or call (937) 352-0249.