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Pink Santa Hat Movement on a Mission to Inspire Educators Battling Breast Cancer

Pink Santa Hat Movement on a Mission to Inspire Educators Battling Breast Cancer

Information from the American Cancer Society continues to show that breast cancer remains the most common form of new cancer in women annually, i.e., one in 3 cancers or 30%. Interestingly, despite the annual increase of 0.5% in breast cancer annually, breast cancer death rates have declined by 43% in 2020, thanks to increased awareness, earlier detection through screenings, and better treatments.

Currently, the U.S. has more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors, including women who have completed treatment and those still undergoing treatment. The Pink Santa Hat Movement continues to promote the legacy of Elise Dunnigan Bethel by providing care packages and an annual inspiration weekend and gala. In addition, through the nonprofit, her family helps educators fight breast cancer by offering them support and fellowship at a time when they need to keep their spirits and hopes strong.

Finding Strength Together

Shortly after Elise was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in 2015, she started the Wright Stuff Chicks with her mother and twin sister, creating catchy T-Shirts designs and other accessories for teachers. The women’s and black-owned business created by the family of dedicated educators continues to grow.

During this time, they also started the Teach Your Heart Out foundation to help empower women educators and the Pink Santa Hat Movement initiative. Elise came from a family of educators, including her mom, sister, and husband.  

Unfortunately, Elise Dunnigan Bethel lost her battle with cancer on July 31, 2018. She was only 34 years old, and her twins were only six. Regrettably, she passed on too quickly, but not before she helped inspire many people to the importance of assisting the phenomenal women educators fighting breast cancer and never to lose hope. Today her family continues honoring her memory by continuing her idea to help others through their struggle with breast cancer.

Uplifting Events Providing Support and Fellowship

Every year the Pink Santa Hat Movement accepts honoree nominations for a weekend in Atlanta, culminating in a December Gala. They also accept nominations for educators battling breast cancer to receive year-round care packages.

“Besides recognizing educators battling breast cancer during Teacher Appreciation Week in May, we also want to uplift others around the country. Therefore, we assist them by sending parcels. These contain items that can help them build their strength, uplift their spirits, and maintain their hopes during their cancer treatment,” says Dr. Donita Howell, Executive Director of the Pink Santa Hat Movement.

Nominations for Pink Santa Hat honorees for the December Gala event have recently opened and appropriately will close on Teacher Appreciation Day on May 9. A past Pink Santa Hat honoree, Tameka Pearson, said, “I recently attended what proved an exhilarating weekend where other women who have been through the same helped restore my hopes for living. Being surrounded by other fearless and selfless ladies filled with generosity and compassion has positively impacted my mindset and helped me continue to believe in my prayers.”

How You Can Help

You can also partner with the Pink Santa Hat Movement to help educators keep fighting by sponsoring an event or making a tax-deductible donation.

You can also contribute by joining their annual 5K Run/Walk event or 1 Mile run for kids in Atlanta on March 25 or October 28. If you live elsewhere and want to support the Pink Santa Hat Movement, you can also register for the Virtual 5K.

Finally, if you’re an avid golfer, register for the Inaugural Pink Santa Hat Movement Golf Tournament in May at the Chapel Hill Golf Course.

Bottom Line

The median age of breast cancer diagnosis varies between racial and ethnic groups, affecting women of all ages. If you know an educator fighting breast cancer, nominate them for a Pink Santa Hat Movement care package or the annual inspirational weekend in Atlanta. You can nominate people for care packages all year, whereas the closing date for the inspirational weekend is May 9.

The long list of Pink Santa Hat Honorees continues to support the mission and vision of the organization that provides educators with the hope, support, and encouragement needed to continue fighting. Eliza Dunnigan Bethel bravely battled breast cancer, and even though she couldn’t beat it, she left a legacy behind to inspire and celebrate fighters and survivors. 

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