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Pink Ribbon Trailblazers take their last walk



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September 12, 2012 - All good things must come to an end, but sometimes the end is a new beginning.

It was a crisp and clear Saturday morning as the Pink Ribbon Trailblazers (PRT) held its sixth and final event on the Polly Ann Trail in Oxford to help raise funds in the fight against breast cancer.

"It's very sad in a way because it's something that's always been dear to my heart," said Lake Orion resident Pat Nolf, founder and president of the group, which was established in 2007. "At this time, I have nine grandchildren that live around here and I'd like to be able to spend more time with them and go see them play sports."

The mission of Pink Ribbon Trailblazers is to raise funds to help cover the cost of mammograms for uninsured and underserved women in Oakland County at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac. Each mammogram costs $108.

"I'm all about keeping our funds and what we spend in Oakland County," Nolf said. "We should take care of our own before we take care of anyone else."

PRT's primary fund-raiser has always been its event on the Polly Ann Trail every September. Participants collect donations, then walk, run or bike the trail for the cause.

Nolf feels the annual event has already reached its "peak," so she needs to "try something else." She said this type of thing happens with a lot of nonprofit groups.

"It might be that people don't want to do the same thing all the time," Nolf said.

Nolf noted there are a lot more fund-raising events on the trail than there were when she started five years ago.

"It's not that they're scaring me away, I just feel like it's time for us to go in a different direction," she explained.

Just because this was the PRT's last trail event doesn't mean that's the end of the entity and all its good work.

"I'm actually going to pursue grants," Nolf said. "I'm not going to give up. The nonprofit will still exist."

PRT is going to try hosting some new events such as "The Pink Ribbon Trailblazers Boobiefest" on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 6-10 p.m. at the Paint Creek Country Club in Orion Township. Tickets are $35 each.

"It's an upscale fund-raiser," Nolf said. "We're going have a dinner, a live band, dancing, silent and live auctions and door prizes."

Prior to this year's trail event, PRT had raised $96,840 since its founding.

"Right now, we have around $20,000 in the bank, so we're going to go way over the $100,000 mark," Nolf said. "Last year, we raised $30,000 and could provide 277 mammograms."

At Saturday's event, PRT collected an additional $5,800 to add to its $20,000 in the bank.

Nolf remembers the first year PRT hosted a trail event, she wanted to raise enough to provide 30 mammograms. "As it turned out, we were able to supply 130 mammograms," she said.

Nolf, a breast cancer survivor currently dealing with lung cancer, is grateful to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland for the "free clinics" it hosts, which provide women with digital mammograms and breast cancer screenings by a doctor.

"We run four (clinics) a year and we see anywhere from 30 to 35 women," she said. "It really is a wonderful relationship. We're independent of (St. Joseph), but we also want to support them."

The next free clinic is Saturday, Oct. 13.

"If someone wants to swing on by, you will see so many appreciative women," Nolf said. "I haven't met one woman who hasn't said 'thank you' on her way out as we give her a hug."

"They come in and they think, 'Oh, I'm going to be here all day' because it's a free thing,'" but it goes fairly quickly because they have three mammographers working that day, Nolf noted.

Nolf is grateful to her husband, Dean, for all his support, especially when it comes to doing the books.

"He's a finance guy," she said. "He worked for Chrysler and that was his job. Because we're a nonprofit, we need to account for all of the money."

For more information about the group, please visit www.pinkribbontrailblazers.com

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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