Shops at Yale promote breast cancer research

This week, shops on Broadway, York and Chapel Streets are offering discounts for those who donate to breast cancer research in New Haven.

In order to participate in the fundraiser, known as Six Days to Save, customers must buy pink bracelets for $5 from participating stores. Proceeds from these bracelets will be donated directly to Closer to Free, a fund that promotes breast cancer treatment and prevention at the Yale Cancer Center and the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale–New Haven Hospital.

“The donation and the bracelet act together as a passport to savings,” Patrick O’Brien, the marketing coordinator for University Properties and the Shops at Yale, said in an email. “The donation helps save lives, while [donors save] money at shops and restaurants.”

Carin Keane, director of retail leasing and marketing for University Properties and the Shops at Yale, said that the majority of stores, such as J. Crew and Campus Customs, are offering discounts of 20 percent off a single item. Restaurants such as Thali Too and Claire’s Corner Copia are also participating.

O’Brien said the organizers of the fundraiser are projecting proceeds of $12,000, as they ordered 2,400 bracelets. Keane added that larger donations can be made beyond the purchase of a bracelet.

Barry Cobden, manager of Campus Customs, said he was optimistic that the fundraiser would be successful, adding that the store had already sold “a ton” of bracelets.

“We need to do more things like this because it not only embraces a good cause, but it embraces all the stores together and makes for a nice event for the city,” Cobden said.

Susan Frankenbach, Senior Project Manager at the Yale University School of Medicine who oversees Closer to Free, said that the fund is the “philanthropic public face” of cancer research at Yale, which encompasses the Yale Cancer Center and the Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Closer to Free was established three years ago with the creation of Smilow. Frankenbach cited the efforts of Dr. Tom Lynch, physician-in-chief at the hospital and director of the Yale Cancer Center, as instrumental in the distribution of funds garnered through her organization.

Through the use of undesignated funds, Lynch and administrators at Smilow Cancer Hospital are able to grant seed money to novel research endeavors in cancer prevention and treatment. Often, this research is further pioneered at the hospital in the form of clinical trials.

The funds generated from the Six Days to Save fundraiser will be earmarked specifically for breast cancer. Because of the vast amount of breast cancer fundraisers, Frankenbach said significant improvements have been made in diagnostic tests, such as ultrasounds, that allow for early detection of the cancer.

“Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence,” Frankenbach said. “It’s a treatable disease.”

The Shops at Yale held a similar fundraiser for breast cancer research last year. Known as “Shop for a Cause,” participating merchants donated 20 percent of one day’s sales to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. O’Brien said that several shop owners expressed interest in a larger, weeklong breast cancer fundraiser at a merchants’ meeting in August, leading to the creation of this year’s event.

Closer to Free’s most profitable fundraiser is a bike ride held each September; this year’s event garnered over $1 million for cancer research.

Citizen-led fundraisers are equally important to the cause, according to Frankenbach. She brought up the example of a young girl in Hamden whose mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her fundraiser — a lemonade stand — raised $4,000 in just four hours.

Bracelets can also be purchased on Market Island, across from J. Crew on Broadway, and at Info New Haven, on the corner of Chapel and College Streets.

Twenty-one businesses are participating in the event.

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