By June Mathews
TRUSSVILLE — Turning an entire city pink is no easy feat. Just ask Joshua White. He’s been the driving force behind Turn Trussville Pink each October for seven years, a community effort that has raised more than $100,000 for breast cancer research through the distribution of pink T-shirts and ribbon decorations in exchange for donations.
But now White and his supporting team of family members, friends and volunteers are taking on an even pinker challenge – three times pinker, in fact – when Clay and Springville become part of what has evolved into Turn the City Pink, set to take place Oct. 22.
The evening before, volunteers will gather at Three-Earred Rabbit in Trussville to pick up pink bows and neighborhood assignment cards. They will then circulate throughout their assigned areas, attaching bows to mailboxes and other structures, literally turning their cities pink overnight.
“We are thrilled that the three cities will be coming together on the same day,” White said. “And because it started in the schools, we’re using school colors to make a distinction among the communities. We have red T-shirts for Hewitt, blue for Clay-Chalkville and purple for Springville. I think it’ll be a fun challenge to see which of the three cities turns the pinkest.”
Turn the City Pink originated in 2006 as a project to honor two Hewitt-Trussville High School teachers in the midst of battling breast cancer. White, then a sophomore, worked with DECA, a business and marketing student organization, to raise funds for breast cancer research by selling pink T-shirts and decorations.
Bolstered by the success of Turn Hewitt Pink, White and his team took the effort citywide in 2008. Turn Trussville Pink raised $5,000 in its inaugural year and with the support of businesses and civic organizations all over the city, has been going strong since.
Another milestone occurred in 2010, when White established a nonprofit entity to facilitate Turn Trussville Pink, as well as raise money for cancer research. In its first year, the foundation, named for White’s parents, raised more than $12,500. The Audie and Kathy White Foundation is the sponsoring organization for Turn the City Pink.
Audie White lost a hard-fought battle with brain cancer in 2009; Kathy White was diagnosed with breast cancer when her son was 9 but is now cancer-free and serving as inspiration and support in the AKW cause. White’s sister, Shayna Swann, is also involved in the organization, and he gained yet another source of family support last year when he and wife Brittany tied the knot.
White emphasizes that funds raised through Turn the City Pink and the AKW Foundation remain local. T-shirt donations are bundled with research donations from the community and passed along to cancer researchers at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“This movement has always been about individuals, each with their own individual stories, coming together as one in order to support all,” he said. “We recognize that bringing hope, above all else, is the most important thing we can do for one another. Turning cities pink is our way of doing that.”
For more information on upcoming Turn the City Pink activities (including the Chick-fil-A Dunking Booth Challenge, where you’ll have a chance to soak some of your favorite elected officials and business leaders), visit www.turnthecitypink.com or send an email to email@example.com.