Who says real men don’t wear pink?
Try telling that to Greg Olsen — all 254 pounds of him. The speedy tight end of the Chicago Bears typifies the toughness of a pro football player. But he’s also the son of a breast cancer survivor and knows how cancer can turn whole families upside down.
That’s why Olsen spearheads Paper Mate’s "Are You Man Enough?" breast cancer awareness campaign. Olsen kicked off the campaign in September at a Chicago rally encouraging thousands of men to wear pink in a show of solidarity with women, as well as to put pen to paper in a show of shared hope.
"From a pink-collared shirt to a pink pin on a pocket or lapel, National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October is the perfect time for men to put on the pink," said Olsen. "I know as men there's a lot we can do to create a greater sense of urgency around the disease — whether that's by wearing pink or writing notes of hope and encouragement."
More than 178,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Yet they aren’t alone; they have husbands and fathers, brothers and sons. The “Are You Man Enough?” campaign gives them a role to play in the battle against the disease.
"Greg epitomizes the type of man we need to win the fight against breast cancer," said Steve Martin, associate vice president of marketing for City of Hope. "When his mom, Sue, was diagnosed with breast cancer during his junior year of high school, instead of living the life of a highly sought-after football prospect, Greg and his family faced the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Greg and his older brother Christian became their mother's support system while she became their strength on the playing field.
“Ultimately, the Olsen family succeeded on all fronts. Our hope is that the struggles Greg and his family faced to beat breast cancer will be an inspiration and help get more people, especially men, actively involved."
At the rally, Olsen unveiled a six-foot tall journal where men wrote personal notes of hope about breast cancer. During October, the journal will travel to several Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer locations to collect inspirational notes and messages. It will ultimately arrive at City of Hope’s Duarte, Calif., campus.
Anyone can visit Paper Mate’s campaign Web site and enter a virtual note for hope as part of Paper Mate's “Write for Hope” campaign. Each month through December, a note will be randomly selected and $500 donated in the entrant's name to City of Hope.
The "Are You Man Enough?" campaign also shows that inspirational words matter.
Tom Keilty, whose wife Ruth died in 2005 after a 12-year battle with the disease, credits the hundreds of handwritten notes Ruth and his family received for giving them encouragement throughout her battle with the disease.
"We have eight binders full of the handwritten notes Ruth received from family, friends and neighbors," said Keilty, whose wife’s story appears on the Write for Hope site. "These were invaluable in providing her the strength and faith she needed to remain positive. On more than one occasion, a note moved Ruth so deeply that she cried, and I have no doubt those tears were in appreciation for all the unwavering love and encouragement she received during the difficult times. Today, Ruth lives on through these notes and through the hope that anyone in a similar situation would get the same support."
"Are You Man Enough?" builds on a City of Hope and Paper Mate relationship that has generated thousands of notes of hope and more than $80,000 to date for City of Hope. Paper Mate will donate up to $200,000 to City of Hope through 2008, including 10 cents from the sale of each Pink Ribbon Pen.