Shades of Pink Foundation: Help Breast Cancer Victims by Walking at the Zoo

By: Amber Ogden | April 10, 2015

Ten years ago, Suzanne Krueger started organizing a charity for local women with breast cancer. It was the summer of 2005 when Krueger co-founded the 501©(3) nonprofit organization known as Shades of Pink Foundation with Dr. Pamela Benitez, and the two began discussing the reality that some women who are experiencing breast cancer need financial assistance during their battle.

“From this reality, we began our own journey in building our charity. The goal has always been to financially help women,” Krueger said. “That mission has not changed in the 10 years of our existence.”

The organization was incorporated in the State of Michigan that December, and has been helping women with breast cancer in southeast Michigan to keep both physically and financially healthy ever since.

When Shades of Pink Foundation (SOPF) was started 10 years ago, there was little to no discussion about the increased financial needs of women who were going through breast cancer treatment, according to Krueger. Throughout the years, changes in health care costs, low income and inability to work during treatment are all factors that have exasperated the financial situation of many women facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Our mission is to help women who are in financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis. If we can help women with gas to get to their treatment, keep them in a warm home by paying their DTE bills, pay their car payments, then they can concentrate on their responsibilities while being treated,” Krueger said.

She explained that health insurance does not eliminate financial distress or health disparities among cancer patients, giving way to the term “financial toxicity.” Basically, it means that a woman’s treatment can be based on her ability to manage her financial situation. That’s where SOPF comes in, aiding southeast Michigan women who are facing a cancer diagnosis with her transportation costs, insurance payments, child care and more.

Shades of Pink Foundation continues to help more than 100 women a year in the hopes that there will be no financial barrier to care in the future. In 2014 alone, SOPF supported more than 106 women in five counties from 22 institutions referred by 35 social workers.

Shades of Pink Foundation

(Photo of Sue Snyder provided by Suzanne Krueger of Shades of Pink Foundation)

“It is a daunting idea to think one might change this reality. I knew I couldn’t help all women, but I decided if I could help some, then the reality of building a charity was worth the effort,” Krueger explained.

To celebrate 10 years, SOPF is hosting its annual Walk at the Zoo fundraiser at the Detroit Zoo on Saturday, April 25. Your Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers are proud to be a Pink Sponsor of the zoo walk event for our fourth year. The walk is the organization’s largest yearly fundraiser, and Krueger expects all attendance records to be broken this year.

Those who sign up for the walk can participate individually or in teams, and the walk is a great opportunity for friends to get together for an excellent cause.

“We have hundreds of teens supporting the walk from various schools in the area,” she said. “The zoo is a beautiful venue for not only supporting the mission, but of having a great day with friends and family. After the walk, those in attendance may stay (for) the day and enjoy all the zoo has to offer.”

Those who are interested can register online, or at the zoo beginning at 7 a.m. the day of the walk. Early registration is available through this Saturday and costs $35 for adults and $25 for children ages 6 to 17. After Saturday, April 11, registration increases by $10. Little ones (ages 2 to 5) can participate for $10, and children under the age of 2 are admitted for free. If you’re interested in helping the cause but can’t drag yourself out of bed that early on a Saturday morning, you can participate as a “sleepwalker” with a $25 donation fee and show your support from anywhere. The walk begins promptly at 8 a.m.!

The first lady of Michigan, Sue Snyder, is the organization’s honorary chair as an 11-year breast cancer survivor and will be speaking at this year’s Walk at the Zoo event.

After ten years of helping women with breast cancer, the Shades of Pink Foundation, its board members and its volunteers are not slowing down any time soon. Another 10 years of success are certainly in store.

“The need is so great,” Krueger said. “The Board of Directors are constantly discussing and preparing a path of continued growth not only in fundraising but in creating awareness of our existence so all women who need our help will know to contact us through their treatment centers.”

For more information on Shades of Pink Foundation and the upcoming Walk at the Zoo, visit http://www.shadesofpinkfoundation.org.