What started as a creative idea at a car show has now turned into a full-blown breast cancer-themed Jeep. It’s owner? Denise B., a breast cancer survivor who travels to different cities for the 3-Day as either a walker or a mobile cheering station (with her Jeep in tow, of course).
How did you first hear about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day?
I moved to Riverview, Florida in 2011 and heard about the 3-Day through local advertisements for the Tampa Bay event. I participated the following year, 2012, in the Tampa Bay 3-Day as a one-year breast cancer survivor.
What is your connection to breast cancer?
I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the ’90s and beat it. Then, six years later, it came back in her lungs, and she ultimately passed away. In January of 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer from a mammogram. My cancer was caught very early; even the doctor couldn’t feel it. I had a lumpectomy and radiation.
Why are you motivated to help put an end to this disease?
I don’t want my daughter or anyone else to have to go through the battle of breast cancer or any other type of cancer ever again.
We heard you have a custom Jeep, can you tell us about it? How did you come up with this idea?
I originally had a black and pink Jeep TJ that had a breast cancer theme. That Jeep’s name was Esperanza, which means “Hope” in Spanish. I went to a car show with that Jeep in October of 2018, which was a benefit event for breast cancer. I purchased pink ribbon magnets for people to write names of survivors and stick them on my Jeep during the car show. I ended up winning that car show! A couple years later I decided to buy a Jeep Gladiator and put a wrap on it with names of survivors and in memory of others who lost their breast cancer battle. I worked with a female wrap designer to help me capture what I envisioned. The Gladiator’s name is Pink Virago, “Virago” is Latin for “female Gladiator/Warrior.” The words “Nobody Fights Alone” run along each side of the Jeep. I originally had about 140 names that I had gathered to put on the Jeep, and intended to fill the ribbon that goes down both sides with names, but over time I ran out of room. So, I expanded the space and now put names everywhere on it. Currently there are almost 400 names. Most of these names are for breast cancer, but as I meet people and they give me names, no matter what kind of cancer they have, I put it on my Jeep.
You usually have a friend traveling with you in a unicorn costume. Is there a story behind that?
The unicorn is actually my friend Elizabeth (she has raised over $100,000 for Susan G. Komen). She frequents Dallas/Fort Worth and other cities as the Unicorn, and in past years has shown up in a pink Gorilla or a banana costume. I met Elizabeth at my first 3-Day in Tampa. My sister worked with her and told her I was doing the 3-Day also. She walked with me on my first 3-Day and is the reason I made it all 60 miles. She was also with me in Dallas/Fort Worth this past year when I did my first mobile cheering station. She was my introduction to the Pink Bubble and represents what the Pink Bubble is all about.
What does the Pink Bubble mean to you?
The Pink Bubble is the culmination of diverse people from all over that come together and form a community over three days to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. But ultimately, it’s a group of people who lift each other up, laugh together, cry together and tell their stories. Just like how a bubble forms from water and soap, the Pink Bubble forms from all the people we meet and stories we share. Then at the end of the weekend, we all go back to our normal lives, but we take a piece of the Pink Bubble with us, in the form of new stories, memories and friendships.
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