BY MEG NAKANO
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the busiest fundraising month for the NPO “Run for the Cure®” Foundation here in Tokyo. The RFTC Foundation’s two main events are the daytime Run for the Cure/Walk For Life on October 17, and the evening black-tie dinner and auction event, the Pink Ball, held on Friday October 30 at the Westin Hotel in Ebisu. Both events are run and staffed by volunteers to keep the highest possible percentage of the money that has been raised going directly into the charity activities. If you can’t donate money, please do consider donating your time in the future.
I spoke to the the co-chairs of the Pink Ball, Tim (T) and Jeanette (J). The Pink Ball will raise money through sponsors, ticket buying guests, and auction sales. Key to the entire function are the volunteers who donate their time and energy.
Can you explain what the Pink Ball is?
T: The Pink Ball raises money for clinics that don’t have enough money to buy mammography equipment, and it supports their use for the first two years. But more importantly, the Pink Ball is a celebration of living on, of courage, of inspiration, and the empowerment of helping.
J: It’s the largest fundraising event that Run for the Cure® does every year. It’s a gala event, a black-tie event, quite an exciting evening, an auction with great prizes, always some super-special entertainment. It’s quite glamorous and exciting.
What is special about this year’s Pink Ball?
T: We’ll be creating a magical evening—The Magic of Giving. There will be a chef flown in from Los Angeles, so great food…
J: We have an exciting celebrity who will be performing, and it will be an evening for The Magic of Giving. For the past five years the program has been about the same, and this year it’s going to be different, it will be a new format. You need to come to see it.
Why do you give the Pink Ball your time and effort?
T: I am involved because breast cancer is a health issue that affects the person and their family both physically and emotionally. I saw this first hand in college when a girlfriend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, how the survivors and their families needed help dealing with it. I grew up in a big family, loving big parties, and in college my fraternity won the Best Community Service Award. Now I’m working in Tokyo, and this year the Foundation invited me to co-chair this, so my wife and I are both volunteering, my wife with the Run for the Cure/Walk for Life, and I’m with the Pink Ball.
J: I get a lot of joy in helping other people. I like doing work like this that I know is going toward a good cause. Also, I get to meet and work with a lot of interesting people. It is always a challenge, and I like having that in my life to grow into. Plus, it’s good for myself and my skills. There is just so much to get out of it. You spend the time and the effort, and the rewards that you get out of it are just fantastic. There is such a great sense of accomplishment when you’re finished, when it’s two o’clock in the morning, and the Ball is done, knowing that you have done something worthwhile. And then being able to hear that you’ve made it possible to buy a mammogram machine or two mammogram machines, and purchase an amount of mammograms for women.
Any message for Being A Broad readers?
J: The Pink Ball is an exciting thing to be part of. If you really want to get experience in event planning or managing full fundraising and seeing how a charity works, the Pink Ball is a great way to do that. You get to work on so many levels, deal with sponsors, the hotel, the food, the entertainment, and with so many groups. There are so many ways you can get new knowledge and experience, and there is such a variety of things that you can get involved in. It is worth volunteering just for the experience.
T: Come out to the Pink Ball, or next year’s Run for the Cure®. There are a lot of first-class groups involved doing different things. Let’s come out as a community to support this cause.
“Please volunteer” is abstract, but not difficult. Jobs include set-up during the afternoon of the Pink Ball, as well as creating name tags for the evening’s guests. Volunteers to direct people during the event will be needed along with reception desk staff, raffle ticket sellers, silent auction attendants, cashiers, and live auction runners; assistants will be needed for the entertainers, as well as people to set up the food for the volunteers. They will need people to assist with the arrangements for parcel delivery, and people to help with clean-up of auction items. Prior experience is welcome but not required. Please mark October 30 on your calendar, and let them know your dream job for assisting at a magical evening to help fight breast cancer by emailing email@example.com if you are interested in volunteering. The committee will need both ‘day work’ setting up on the afternoon of the 30th, and ‘at the ball’ work for three to four hours doing one of the more complex, or two of the simpler, jobs above (or more, if you wish) between 6pm and midnight on October 30. Orientation meeting notices and information on the jobs available will be sent out to people who email pinkballvolunteer@gmail. com. Also, please visit www.runforthecure.org for event details.
Note: Early detection of breast cancer is vital. Although the incidence of breast cancer is one in every eight or nine women in the US and one in twenty in Japan, that number in Japan is up from one in thirty only five years ago. The survival rate here is much lower than in the US due to later detection. Less than ten percent of Japanese women get regular mammograms, generally every other year instead of annually, and there are rural areas where mammograms are simply not available. Government subsidies do not apply to women under the age of 40, and an internet search of open-market prices in Tokyo ranged from ¥7,000 to ¥15,000 for a mammography alone; a half-day or more for a complete physical including a mammography is much higher.