Both men and women experience the effects of breast cancer. Each can be diagnosed with this loathsome disease—but, more often than not, men become intimately familiar with breast cancer when a woman they love receives a diagnosis. In 2014, a group of men combined their voices in an effort to increase breast cancer awareness. These men are The Pink Tie Guys.
Jim Conner is the husband of Jennifer Jurgens, Susan G. Komen® Michigan executive director and breast cancer survivor. Jim wanted to do something out of the typical breast cancer awareness box: He wanted to get the attention of men. To do so, he started the Grand Rapids Pink Tie Guys movement and now coordinates its annual "guys-only" event. This exclusive fraternity of West Michigan men has amassed quite a following.
The Pink Tie Guys meet throughout the year over bourbon and a game of cards to discuss how they can bring more attention to this important topic. They then throw their annual over-the-top fundraiser, affectionately referred to as "A Charitable Event on Steroids."
The men are familiar with the startling 1 in 8 statistic: A woman born today has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. Accordingly, the event's tickets can be purchased for $1,008. Conner hopes to raise $100,000 at this year's event.
Last year, the Pink Tie Guys rented out Reserve Wine & Food. The men dined on a bevy of what Jim Conner refers to as "guy food." The group also transformed downtown's Lyon Square into a mechanical playground stocked with over a million dollars worth of sports and luxury cars, motorcycles and boats. The event's thrill-seekers then zoomed across the Grand River hooked to a zipline. This year's event promises to be just as exciting!
On Thursday, May 12, the third Annual Pink Tie Guys event will be held at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport's Northern Jet hangar. The hangar will be filled with a cross-section of prominent West Michigan men who share the common desire to stop breast cancer in its tracks. This year's theme is Casino Royale, so tell your significant others to bring their lucky dice and join in!
All of the money raised at these events is sent directly to Susan G. Komen, with the directive that it be spent only in West Michigan.
Do your significant others enjoy good food, good cocktails, good cigars and—most important—a good cause? If so, encourage them to get involved with The Pink Tie Guys!
And if you happen to see a group of men walking around town wearing pink ties, give them a pat on the back and a "thank you." They are doing amazing things and touching countless lives. The Pink Tie Guys are making a difference.
For more information:
Visit http://theptg.org to learn more about The Pink Tie Guys and click here to register for the May 12, 2016, event.
View these WOODTV and WZZM13 segments to hear from Jim Conner and his fellow Pink Tie Guys.
Written by Lisa Stickler, staff writer for West Michigan Woman magazine.
Photo courtesy of JD Hage/Green Frog Photo.