City of Austin comes together to find a cure

[anvplayer video=”5156554″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – It’s the time of year when the city of Austin comes together for one cause, to find a cure for breast cancer with the annual Paint the Town Pink fundraiser.

Over the next few months, there will be fundraising events all over town. There are also people like Jeremy Olson, the owner of Hoot and Ole’s Smitty’s Tavern, who go the extra mile.

“I lost my father five years ago to cancer,” said Olson.

In those last five years, Olson’s girlfriend’s stepdad also lost his battle with cancer. In addition, Olson has a very good friend that he says is fighting a losing battle with breast cancer.

Olson started fundraising in 2013 with three people taking part in the Polar Plunge and raising $700. Since then, fundraising efforts have grown and so has the fundraising total. To date, more than $225,000 has been raised by Olson.

“Any of the money that’s going is going to allow these scientists to write grants to turn that $20,000 into $100,000, or $200,000, or however much they can turn that into.”

Hosting different fundraising events at his tavern, that money is helping fund research projects like Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke‘s. She’s looking into how loneliness impacts cancer.

“Women who reported being lonely, feeling lonely, or not having many sources of contact. They are 60% more likely to die of breast cancer and 50% more likely to have a reoccurrence,” said Dr. Hilakivi-Clarke.

Dr. Hilakivi-Clarke received a Paint the Town Pink grant last year to fund her research. She said without it, she wouldn’t have been able to further her research. Now, she is able to take it to the National Institutes of Health.

“The community comes together and they actually put these events together,” said Daneka Wiechmann, the development associate and coordinator at Paint the Town Pink.

“We just help support them in any way that we can. Anybody that you know that has passed away from cancer, it’s just a wonderful opportunity to be able to try and help anyone that’s out there experiencing this situation.”

A reminder that ‘no one fights alone.’

The mantra and black ribbon are tattooed on the wrist of Olson.

“That’s what I carry on me every day. It’s a mantra with my father. Someday they’re going to find that cure and I hope that we can be a part of it.

“It blows my mind what they’re doing in little Austin, Minnesota with this world-renowned cancer research center.”

Hoot and Ole’s is hosting a new event this year to find a cure. On Saturday, January 21st, there will be an appetizer contest starting at 3:00 p.m.

Paint the Town Pink runs through the end of February. For more information on a list of events, CLICK HERE.