A plastic water jug sits in Christy Grudzinski’s office at City of Hope. It has no water in it, but it is steadily growing full.
Wrapped in fabric adorned with pink ribbons, the container is filling with coins and bills — cash donated by staff, patients and passersby to support City of Hope’s breast cancer research, treatment and education programs.
|Christy Grudzinski leans on the jar she hopes will bring change. (Photo by Thomas Brown)|
Grudzinski, a senior secretary in the Department of Radiation Oncology, is a member of the Pink Carpet Club, City of Hope employees who participate in Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer Nationally Sponsored by Staples. The Los Angeles-area event, one of nine nationwide, takes place Oct. 25 at City of Hope.
The mammoth penny jar is one eye-catching way she boosts the total collected by her Walk team, called Keeping Abreast.
“I thought, ‘Gosh, this is a really simple way to raise money without putting a lot of pressure on people,’” Grudzinski said. “Every penny counts when you’re fighting a disease like this, especially now that times are tight.”
She has captained her team for four years. In that time, they have raised about $8,000 for the battle against breast cancer. The water jug, one of five in locations around campus, is a new arrow in the team’s fundraising quiver, which also includes a bake sale, a monthly newsletter and a blog.
Although Grudzinski has not yet added up the water-bottle takings, the effort seems to be a winner, judging by weight.
“I have to lock up the jars in my supervisor’s office at night, and I keep telling her, ‘One of these days I’m going to pop my shoulder out trying to pick this thing up,’” she said. “It’s really taken off. I didn’t think it was going to do this well.”
A profoundly personal inspiration drives her to raise funds through Walk for Hope: her grandmother, who was a survivor of breast and other cancers.
Said Grudzinski, a Whittier, Calif., resident whose husband also works at City of Hope: “My grandma was my hero, a woman of great strength and a great person to look up to. So I walk for her.”
While anyone with spare pocket change can chip in for the cause, Keeping Abreast needs another kind of help. The downturn in the economy has shrunk Grudzinski’s team from 2008, so she seeks more walkers to join up and raise funds toward the team’s goal this year of $5,000.
“One person can do a lot of things, but many people can do a whole lot more,” she said. “Just like my pennies, when a whole bunch of them get together, they can really make a difference.”