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Madison in the Pink

Students seek to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Persephone Efessiou and Jewel Jones wanted to show their classmates how easy it could be to get involved. The 17-year-old Madison students were developing a project for DECA, an association of marketing students.

They decided to help raise the awareness of breast cancer among their classmates. "It's very easy to do something — to get involved," Jewel said.

Pink ribbons have become the traditional way of expressing support for breast cancer research, so students and faculty were asked to wear an article of pink clothing to school on Jan. 19, which they dubbed "Think Pink Day.”

The participation rate was very high and ranged from students who wore completely pink outfits to those who wore a sweater with a single pink stripe. "Everybody joined together," Persephone said. "I'm so shocked that even people I don't know are doing it."

Those who wore pink were given a free pink cupcake (most of which were donated by classmates) during their lunch period. All students attending lunch could enter into a raffle to win prizes donated by local businesses. Along with the treats went pamphlets about breast cancer and breast cancer awareness ribbons.

The day was partly inspired by Persephone's mother, Athena Marken. Marken has breast cancer and traveled from Boston to attend the event. Marken was honored that her daughter would think of her.

She also thought it was important that the young women realize that they should begin the habit of self-examinations. "I think bringing the awareness to this level is great," Marken said.

Persephone was able to get her father to assist. Christos Efessiou is the CEO of Strategic Pharmaceutical Advisors, a company that seeks to educate physicians and the public about health-care issues. Persephone, he said, approached him with the idea of sponsoring the event. "It was never my idea that she'd do it," Efessiou said. "This was a natural fit."

The girls will now write a paper about their project, which will serve almost like a manual for other students who might want to have Think Pink Day at their school.

The paper will be entered into a competition with other DECA students. "They write the paper, and they present it at the state," said Jennifer Gardner, DECA's faculty adviser.

An exercise like this one helps the students, not only with their marketing skills but with developing a more socially conscious program. "This is bringing in the human side of it," Gardner said.