Along with many other gatherings this year, the annual Pamper Me Pink breast cancer awareness event could not be held in-person. So founder Sharon Welch Clark decided the show must go on virtually.
Pamper Me Pink, which is usually a one-night extravaganza with hundreds of attendees, is being conducted throughout October over a series of Facebook videos featuring interviews with medical professionals and breast cancer survivors.
Videos posted so far on the Pamper Me Pink Culpeper Facebook page include interviews with radiologist Dr. Carrie Rochman and breast care navigator Sydney Jones.
“People can go onto the Facebook page and watch the interview anytime. So we’re all about convenience this year,” Clark said.
At the end of each video, she said clues are given regarding the location of a “pink sign” and the first person to post a photograph alongside it will receive a “fabulous gift.” These interviews, she explained, are similar to usual Pamper Me Pink activities.
“We bring together many people that just want to spend time together. I think it’s nice for them to be around people that are dealing with the same illness or disease to share their stories and tell us about what they’ve gone through and how they can help other people,” she said.
While having to go virtual is disappointing, Clark said the change allows Pamper Me Pink to reach more people as the Facebook page has 2,000 views.
“So maybe we’re reaching even more people than we would in person…we have to look at the bright side,” she said.
Clark explained that the event was born because many customers at her Pepperberries shop are women who have dealt with breast cancer either directly or indirectly.
“I just wanted to give back to my customers and the community,” she said.
Although Pamper Me Pink has raised over $225,000 and provided 660 free mammograms to area residents, the event started small. Clark explained that 17 years ago, about 20 people attended the inaugural event, which raised $100.
“We just had little pampering stations offering things like hand massages and little goodies to eat,” she said of the first event.
There were difficulties, however, in finding an organization willing to use the money for mammograms in the community. Then, two years after the first Pamper Me Pink, Clark said Novant Health UVA Health System offered to partner.
“I came across a member at the hospital who said: ‘If you want to give us your money, we will do exactly what you want us to with that money.’ So that’s when the relationship was formed with the hospital and we have been in this relationship for 15 years…and it has been absolutely phenomenal,” she said.
The hospital’s assistance, Clark explained, has ensured that every single dollar raised goes toward helping residents get mammograms.
Donna Staton, president of Culpeper Medical Center, recently told the Board of Supervisors that “I dare say there’s one person in here that hasn’t been either directly or indirectly impacted by the prevalence of breast cancer.”
“So we’re extremely proud to partner for our 15th consecutive year with Pamper Me Pink,” she said. “The community support for this is probably now more important than ever.”
Clark explained that Pamper Me Pink is not a fundraising event, but a “celebration and educational opportunity” without an admittance cost.
“People give us money because they want it to stay local, they want it to go to a specific thing. I’ve never really gone out and done any fundraising,” she said.
This year, however, Clark said that may have to change as “I’m very concerned because when you’re not in front of somebody, it’s hard for them to remember ‘I should give that $25 to Pink.’”
Donations can be easily made on the Pamper Me Pink Culpeper Facebook page.