|Evelyn Lauder, photo courtesy of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
By now, many of us recognize the pink ribbon as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer. The woman behind the ribbon--Evelyn H. Lauder--has been dedicated for the last decade to helping find a cure for breast cancer and raising awareness of the disease.
In 1993, Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Since then, the BCRF has raised over $70 million for genetic and clinical research on breast cancer. And in 2003, the foundation plans to donate a total of $14 million to over 70 top researchers at medical and academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
Lauder is thrilled by the progress that is being made. “Some of the most recent research is the most exciting,” she said in the October 2003 issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. That research includes vital information about the role of nutrition and exercise in breast cancer prevention and important discoveries of genes associated with breast cancer and vitamin-related treatments for breast cancer patients.
As the senior corporate vice president of the Estée Lauder Companies--which is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of skincare, makeup, fragrance and hair care products--Lauder was always interested in helping women look their best. But she was inspired to help women feel their best after learning that approximately 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year.
First, in 1989, Lauder led a fundraising effort that raised more than $18 million to endow the first-ever breast and diagnostic center. Completed in 1992, the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, provides coordinated supportive services for breast cancer.
In October 1992, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lauder launched the first campaign of its kind by organizing the distribution of hundreds of thousands of pink ribbons and “Breast Self-Exam” instruction cards at all Estée Lauder counters across the United States.
A year later, Lauder established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to fill the critical need for research funds. The foundation is recognized as the first and largest national organization solely dedicated to funding research of the causes, treatment and prevention of breast cancer. One of the reasons for its success: A minimum of 85 cents per dollar raised by the BCRF goes directly to research grants and awareness programs.
Now, more than four million pink ribbons and educational materials are given away each year around the world. Proceeds from a line of makeup products benefit the BCRF and the Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Program extends to 43 countries.
In 2000, Lauder and the Estée Lauder Companies launched the “Global Landmarks Illumination Initiative,” in which historic landmarks are symbolically covered in pink lights. In October 2001, more than 200 prominent historic landmarks in more than 40 countries participated, including Niagara Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and the Tokyo Tower in Japan.