The pink construction crane had been in service for nearly two weeks when Jessica Ives learned her mother had breast cancer.
Suddenly, the campaign by her employer, Phoenix Crane Rental, to help raise awareness of breast cancer, and Ives’ job of operating the pink crane, seemed much more personal.
“I was stunned,” Ives said of her mother’s 2012 diagnosis.
Since then, she continued operating the pink crane on various construction jobs, providing rolling advertisement for the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6, as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Breast cancer affects everybody at some point because we all know someone who has been through it,” Ives said between jobs recently. “To be a part of trying to help get the word out and encourage early detection is huge for me.”
And Phoenix Crane Rental.
The Mableton company this year partnered with “It’s The Journey,” the non-profit organization that sponsors the 30-mile 2-Day Walk, pledging to donate 10 percent of the revenue generated by its pink crane to the annual fundraiser.
“Over the years, we have contributed regularly to a variety of charities, but have not gotten involved with any particular cause with passion until now, said Mike Phillips, Phoenix’s president. “We knew we had the resources to contribute and the willingness to become involved. We just needed the right partner.”
Becoming part of the journey
Kimberly Goff, executive director of “It’s The Journey,” said she approached Phoenix about joining their efforts shortly after learning the company was supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Since it is based in Georgia, Goff believed she could convince Phoenix to keep its investment at home.
“I sent them an email and got a call from Mike within an hour,” she said. “I was thrilled. We’re excited to have them involved and that this will be an on-going partnership.”
Goff said corporate donations such as Phoenix’s and more recently Metalcon, which has pledged $25,000 this year, will helps “It’s The Journey” remain sustainable and are critical to expanding the organization’s impact. This year alone, the non-profit awarded grants totaling more than $530,000 to 20 breast health and breast cancer programs in Georgia. Those grants provide cancer screenings, diagnosis, treatment, counseling and education.
“We think we’ve raised our game with more sponsors and we’d always like to have more walkers,” Goff said.
To date 745 people have registered for the October 2-Day Walk www.2daywalk.org. Goff said the goal is 800 walkers. Participants must pay $150 registration fee that covers meals and a one-night stay in the Marriott Marquis downtown and can choose to walk either both days or one day. One day walkers pay a $100 fee and are required to raise a minimum of $500. Two day walkers must raise $1,000 minimum. There is even an opportunity for breast cancer survivors to join the walk for the last half-mile in the Survivor Victory Lap.
Raising awareness one job at a time
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, with one in eight women expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. This year alone, more than 230,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, with nearly 40,000 deaths from disease. Men are not immune. Some 2,000 men last year were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
“If it’s not in your family, there’s no reason to think it won’t happen to you,” Goff said. “Everybody needs to be aware.” Only 8 percent of breast cancer is genetically linked.
That’s why the pink crane is so crucial, she said. It calls attention not just to breast cancer but to the non-profit.
“People don’t know us as well as the national groups nor can we afford to pay for blocks of advertising,” Goff said. “Generating attention with the Phoenix crane is huge.”
It was Phillips’ father’s idea to paint one of its cranes pink.
There’s no way to know for sure how many people have actually seen the pink monster, but Ives estimates thousands as she has criss-crossed metro Atlanta to complete various jobs. The crane has been in operation since Mother’s Day 2012.
“I pull up to a stop light and people roll down their windows and take pictures with their cell phone,” Ives said. “I’ve also had them walk on a job and ask if they can get a picture, so people are noticing.”
In addition to being responsible for the crane, Ives said she has a Facebook page that is generating interest. She said the page gets about 70 hits a day and have 200 followers.
Phoenix will get a new 40-ton Terex Crane that will make its debut at the Atlanta 2-Day Walk.
So will Ives.
She will be walking in honor of her mother, 59-year-old Terrie Hope of Cannon Falls, Minn.
Hope, she said, has completed chemotherapy and is about half-way through radiation treatments.
“She’s good,” she said. “Doctors believe she will have a full recovery.”
Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer
Oct. 5-6. Deadline to register Sept. 23. 404-531-4111, www.2daywalk.org.