Walk at Zoo for Breast Cancer

Jan Wade was shocked when she learned she had breast cancer in January, 2010. Now, two years later, she is in remission has decided to help women who endure the disease without the same loving support she received from her family.

Wade works with the Shades of Pink foundation. A member of their board, and a co-chair of “A Walk at the Zoo,” Wade, 53, is key in organizing the foundation’s biggest event of the year. From recruiting volunteers to raising money, she is involved in every aspect of the walk, which will be held on April 28th at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, Michigan.

It was Wade’s doctor, Dr. Pamela R. Benitez, who first approached her about getting involved with Shades of Pink, in late 2010.

“She asked me if I would help her with the walk,” Wade said “so I told her that I would.” Now she is in her third year of being co-chair of the event.

Wade has also gotten her friends and family involved.

“Breast cancer is just really close to me, because my mom had it,” Jan Wade’s daughter, Carly Wade, a Seaholm freshman, said.

Carly is, like her mom, very involved in the upcoming event. She will be there, registering walkers, directing people where to go, and even doing face painting on the day of the walk. She appreciates the support of Shades of Pink, and the strength of her mom during what was admittedly a scary time in her life. “She kept telling us ‘I’m gonna get through it.’ That helped us,” Carly said.

Jan Wade comforted her family and, in turn, they did their best to offer their support during her treatment.

But it is the people without this support that the Shades of Pink foundation reaches out to.

The money raised at “A Walk in the Zoo” can pay for anything from their groceries to COBRA payments (payments for treatment for women without adequate health insurance, this can cost up to $2,500). And, Jan Wade stressed, all of the money goes to these women.

“One other thing that is important for people to understand is that this foundation is based 100 percent with volunteers, so all of the money that we raise goes directly to the women… and it’s all local, southeast Michigan women,” Jan said, “that’s what makes us kind of unique.”

And just how much money does Shades of Pink raise for these women?

“This year we are expecting to earn about $100,000,” Jan Wade said.

The Shades of Pink foundation has not always been so successful, though. In fact, five years ago, it didn’t even exist.

The foundation was founded in 2008 by Dr. Benitez and her friend Suzanne Krueger, with the goal of assisting women recently diagnosed with breast cancer with their non-medical needs.

“The mission of the Shades of Pink foundation is to provide temporary financial assistance to women who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis,” Shades of Pink’s website reads. A Shades of Pink representative was contacted, but did not respond.

So, what’s next for Shades of Pink after “A Walk in the Zoo”? After the walk, they’ll be busy planning their next big fundraiser, aptly named “An Uplifting Event.”

“The theme is ‘some women need a little more support,’” Jan Wade said, laughing. “It’s gonna be really cute. It’s like bra sizes… So in this event, like, for instance, an A-cup is a Kroger card and a B-cup is an electricity bill, all the way up to a DD, which is a COBRA payment.” Sign up for “A Walk in the Zoo” at Shades of Pink’s website, http://www.shadesofpinkfoundation.org.

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