Through fundraising efforts, Seymour Pink’s goal is to fund breast cancer research, provide education and empower and assist breast cancer victims and their families. Big Y has supported this nonprofit organization through its Community Bag Program.
Tell us about Seymour Pink.
Seymour Pink’s mission is to unite a community in the fight against breast cancer. The official birth of the organization was back in 2009. Our founder, Mary Deming, set out on a mission to be the highest fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen three-day walk that was being held in Boston that year.
Mary and her husband were both Seymour High School Educators and well-known in the community. She started raising funds and doing all sorts of different activities. Everyone wanted to help support her endeavor. That fall, our town declared a Seymour Pink Day, an excellent play on words. People put up pink decorations and wore pink clothing. It was a perfect way to spread awareness about breast cancer. One of the first annual fundraisers, a pasta dinner, began that year. Then, in the spring of 2010, we became a 501c3 nonprofit, and though we remain a grassroots nonprofit, things skyrocketed from the start.
On a personal note, I say the idea for Seymour Pink started in 2006. I was a senior in high school in Mrs. Deming’s anatomy class, and we were learning about the cardiovascular system. Her mother had passed from breast cancer, and we did a fundraiser at the local gym to raise money. We called the event Seymour Pink; let’s see more pink and spread awareness. This was years before it truly became an organization. As a past student of our founder, it is lovely to say I was a part of the organization’s very beginnings.
What services do you provide to the community?
We support patients with breast cancer in a variety of ways. We are providing comfort baskets for those in treatment. They are made by one of our board members and put together with purchased or donated items like comfy socks, hats or journals to give them something to brighten their day.
Seymour Pink offers emotional support and connections to other organizations or medical healthcare facilities—much of what we provide centers around relationships, resources and education. Many women come to us saying, what do you do if you get diagnosed with breast cancer? Where do you go? We help individuals navigate their diagnoses.
Many women come to us saying, what do you do if you get diagnosed with breast cancer? Where do you go?
The biggest thing that we do is financial support. We are paying directly to the providers, and it’s for necessities like mortgage payments, health insurance payments, medical doctor’s bills and utility expenses. Our organization is very blessed to be a recipient of several donations that allow us to give back even more. We genuinely believe that if we can ease the burden of somebody’s debt, they can focus more on their treatment and recovery.
Another incredible thing we do is a scholarship program for college-bound students affected in some way by breast cancer. Seymour Pink tries to support the whole family if we can.
What sets you apart from other nonprofits in your community?
We are a hundred percent volunteer organization. Every dollar goes directly back to our mission, and the funding stays local. As of 2023, we are supporting 42 towns in Connecticut, and that keeps growing.
Every dollar goes directly back to our mission, and the funding stays local.
What sets us apart and has made us so successful is that people believe that when they give to us, their money gets turned around to somebody who needs it. And it’s staying local, which is of enormous importance to us.
Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.
Throughout our history, we’ve made contributions to local healthcare and medical organizations. We recently partnered with the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital to provide yearly Bella Blankets for all their mammograms. Bella Blankets are a one-time-use sheet that looks like a soft square of wallpaper.
These blankets prevent a woman from having to put her breasts on a cold hard surface, and she gets a little peace of mind that she is going onto something completely sanitary. It’s soft, and you won’t stick to the surface. And the best part about it is that the Bella Blanket material helps get a better image and can result in higher detection rates.
Seymour Pink is proud to help offer comfort and overall better medical outcomes. Last year we provided 11,000 Bella Blankets for patients in our local community. This effort is one great way we provide for our community. Ultimately everything is about educating people, promoting awareness and ensuring people get early detection.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
We are proud of all the fundraising events hosted yearly. These include a Pink Night to Remember, which happens every March. The original pasta dinner is still going strong in April—a golf tournament in June. And our Seymour Pink Day has continued to be around for the last 15 years.
Our 5k is notably our most significant event that brings the community together. It started in 2011, so this year will be our 12th annual race. The first year there were about 300 locals that participated, and we barely had a starting line. Now we have nearly 3000 walkers and runners partaking. The public works department in town will paint all the street lines pink. They put pink ribbons in the street, and we have banners hung throughout the town. Organizations and businesses get involved, and everybody comes together on the first Saturday in October. It’s a great way to get the whole community together to honor survivors and remember those who unfortunately have passed.
It’s incredible to see how it’s grown from 300 participants to what it is now. The event has grown so much, and it’s a great way to get everybody together in a positive way.
What do you want people to know about Seymour Pink?
Seymour Pink is all volunteers, and all the funding goes back to the community, which is essential for people to know. For any event or fundraiser, we have many different communities come together and inquire about how to get involved and support Seymour Pink. Spreading the word and ensuring that people know our services are available is necessary.
Our local community is so supportive of our cause. Over the years, many towns have generated fundraising for Seymour Pink. Last weekend there was a weightlifting competition in a gym in Watertown, Connecticut, to promote awareness about Seymour Pink. We have a tennis tournament that goes on in Middlebury every October. The North Haven High School made a penny war. Another town has this crazy event in the summer where men in pink tutus race on a slip-and-slide to raise money for us. All these fun and creative ideas weren’t imaginable back when we started, but people want to give back.
Growing our territory and helping more individuals is an important message for us. It’s getting increasingly harder to find somebody who does not personally know an individual who’s had breast cancer. We want to get the word out about what we do and inform people that we are here to support them.
Growing our territory and helping more individuals is an important message for us.
How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Big Y Community Bag Program?
The funds raised from the Big Y Community Bag Program primarily go towards continuing to help us fulfill our mission and support our patients financially. These funds, along with all our events and fundraisers, allow us to expand our territory and increase the scholarships and financial support we can give.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Our founder always says; we want to go out of business. Ideally, nobody would need our services because nobody is getting told you have breast cancer. But until that day comes, we will continue to spread awareness and support to those patients and their families. Anybody interested in more information about the organization can visit our website at www.seymourpink.com.
Christine Conroy is the Website and Media Coordinator at Seymour Pink.
Published April 4, 2023.