The Real Men Wear Pink campaign kicked off at 903 Brewers in Sherman Tuesday. The fundraiser benefits the American Cancer Society in providing services for local cancer patients. Event leader Judy Brewer asked community and business leaders to participate by committing to wear pink on Friday’s in October. (Brewer is an employee of the Herald Democrat and works in the advertising department.)

They will share photos of their pink outfits on a website where members of the community can vote on their favorites. Each vote costs $1, which is how the funds are raised. Prizes including a grill and fishing poles will be awarded to the top three fundraisers.

Current participants include Denison Mayor Jared Johnson, city council members, Herald Democrat Senior Group Publicer Nate Rodriguez and Executive Editor Jonathan Cannon, Katy Country Radio, Alpha Media, Home Hospice and Landmark Bank. Small business are represented, as well including Pop Around the Corner and 903 Brewers.

Brewer said there is a need for more services and more support for the Grayson County breast cancer community with 87 new cases of breast cancer in North Texas.

“There is a definite need in our community,” Brewer said. “We want to help provide services for the things that they can do in order to help the treatments to work and to feel better and to get through it. We can raise a million dollars but if we can’t get our patients to treatment, it won’t matter. That’s why these services are very important.”

There are several programs designed to aid cancer patients. The Look Good Feel Good program provides services to aid women who are dealing with the cosmetic complications of chemo therapy treatments. Reach to Recovery helps patients navigate their treatment and understand what’s happening to their bodies. The Road to Recovery program provides drivers to take patients to treatments.

Joel Shilling, a home hospice worker, explained his motivation to participate in the event stems from both his personal and work experiences.

“Anytime you can fight and raise awareness about cancer I say that we need to do anything we can to do,” Shilling said. “As a community, it is very important and it is truly something that needs to be done with everyone involved. Working in hospice, I do work with a lot of cancer patients and breast cancer patients. I see what the impact is and the traumatic experience that it can be but yet the beautiful experience that it is when you beat it. That’s what I like to see. Whatever we can do, however minimal it might be, it still means we are making an impact on a human life and to me that’s what’s most important.”

Woodye Mercer is a 16-year breast cancer survivor and part of a group called Pink Impact. The group’s mission is to mentor newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. They are currently in the process of raising money for a scholarship fund that will go to either breast cancer survivors or their children.

“It’s much better if you can talk to someone that’s been there,” Mercer said. “When you first hear that word, cancer, it’s very frightening and you don’t know where to turn. I think that people, a lot of times, are scared to talk to you. What they need is for you to treat them like you always have and offer support.”

Mercer explained it is better to take action than merely offer help.

“Instead of saying let me know if I can do something, say tomorrow night I’ll bring a meal over,” Mercer said. “It is hard for them to say, I need transportation or my yard mowed or a meal. They are probably not going to call you.”

The American Cancer Society is currently funding 160 grants related to breast cancer totaling more than $62 million. It is not too late to participate. Voting and fundraising continues through Oct. 31. For more information email Judy Brewer can also be contacted at 334-399-9833.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer and needs support or services, call 1-800-ACS-2345.