Going pink to spread awareness: Bingo for Boobies to karaoke

“Early detection saves lives” is the message being spread by the Valley Goes Pink initiative in October.

Susan Coyle, one of the co-chairs, said the breast cancer awareness campaign in the Lower Naugatuck Valley is an example of the difference a grassroots effort can make in a community.

For five years, the Valley Goes Pink has been raising funds for the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital. Last year alone, it raised $70,000.

“I feel so proud and so good,” Coyle said of the services and equipment available at the hospital.

The other co-chair, Pat Tarasovic, said constantly reminding women to get regular mammograms is vital. “It’s just one of those things where you need to keep getting the message out there,” Tarasovic said.

'Seems to touch everyone'

For Coyle, the effort became even more personal this year. She and her daughter were both diagnosed with breast cancer, but “we’ll be fine because of early detection,” she said.

“Breast cancer seems to touch everyone’s lives,” Tarasovic said. “It’s always someone you know and care about, so people want to do something about it.”

The Valley Goes Pink began after Coyle, a Shelton resident who is an owner of Real Estate Two in Huntington, and Tarasovic, an Oxford resident who is director of the Valley United Way’s Volunteer Action Center, joined forces to help raise $1 million to open the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness.

“It was mostly in small donations, a real grassroots effort — with Valley women and families getting together and giving $25 to $200,” Coyle said.

Tarasovic said the Valley Goes Pink was started because there will “always be a continuous need to raise funds and upgrade equipment” at the Hewitt Center.

Studies have found a higher than usual rate of breast cancer in some Lower Naugatuck Valley towns.

Many upcoming events

The Valley Goes Pink involves a series of events in October to raise money and awareness.

Upcoming events include:

— Bingo for Boobies on Monday, Oct. 13 from 6-9 p.m. at Verace Restaurant, 100 Center St., Shelton.

— Vazzy’s of Shelton Karaoke for Pink on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 6-9 p.m. at Vazzy’s Cucina, 706 Bridgeport Ave., Shelton.

— Diamonds, Bling, Wine, and Chocolate on Thursday, Oct. 23 at Marks of Design, 500 Howe Ave., Shelton.

On Oct. 9, the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Young Emerging Professionals held its fifth annual Pinktoberfest at Molto Bene Restaurant in Ansonia.

For details on all Valley Goes Pink events, go to www.griffinhealth.org/pink.