$10 million for breast cancer research—and you can be part of it

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Pink up the Pace, Birmingham! Photo via BCRFA

October may be the month we see pink everywhere we go, but this local organization is fighting for a cure 365 days a year. Get to know the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama and learn all the ways you can get involved today.

25 Years of Supporting this Mission

BCRFA board
The legacy of Dolly O’Neal and so many other lives on in today’s leaders. Photo via BCRFA

Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA) will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. In that time, they’ve raised almost $10 million for life-saving breast cancer research.

“Research is vital to giving breast cancer patients hope that a better future is out there.

The BCRFA has given patients across Alabama that hope by funding local research, as well as building community through their many events.”

Audra Chiles, Breast Cancer Survivor

Getting your specialty tag is just one of the many ways you can be a part of supporting a mission that is changing lives.

BCRFA primarily fundraises for the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, which is a national leader in driving cancer research, advancing new cancer treatments, training the next generation of cancer physicians and more.

“We can see the money being put to work at UAB. We interact with the doctors and take tours of the labs. It’s so evident to see the money working and the progress being made.”

Bruce Sokol, Founder, BCRFA

The funding BCRFA provides to their partners allows researchers to:

  • Receive sought-after and sustaining grant dollars
  • Recruit and retain world-class breast cancer researchers
  • Seize every opportunity for groundbreaking discovery

BCRFA in the Beginning

breast cancer research
More than just funds, BCRFA provides community for patients, survivors and their loved ones. Photo via BCRFA

In December of 1995, something extraordinary began when Dolly O’Neal, a breast cancer survivor, met Bruce Sokol. At the time, Sokol’s wife D.D. was undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Because of their personal experiences, O’Neal and Sokol shared a fervent desire to do something to fight this disease. In 1996, they founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.

“Back in 1995, just the simple words ‘breast cancer’ and the personal impact the disease causes just wasn’t talked about much. There were very few charitable organizations that existed for women’s causes.

I knew there could be a groundswell of support with women looking for a cause to get involved with.”

Bruce Sokol, Founder, BCRFA

BCRFA Today

pink up the pace
Fighting for a cure comes in all kinds of forms. Photo via BCRFA

Over the past quarter of a century, the organization has raised double-digit millions to support lifesaving research. That money is leveraged to make an even bigger impact.

Most people can’t give millions to a cause, even if it’s one as important as this. When you give to an organization like BCRFA, however, it’s kind of like “seed money” that researchers at UAB can easily triple (or more) in grant money.

“UAB has been able to leverage every dollar we’ve given them to go out and work on trials that enable them to go get big, big grants from organizations like the American Cancer Society and the National Institute of Health.”

Bruce Sokol, Founder, BCRFA

The legacy of BCRFA, of course, isn’t without loss. Bruce Sokol’s wife passed away in 2000, and co-founder Dolly O’Neal passed in 2015. This organization has seen pride and triumph, but not without remembering those for which they do the work.

Bruce has passed most of the operational duties on, but he remains involved with the organization he founded and is hopeful for its future:

“The fact is—the disease is going nowhere. But you can battle it, and we can help defeat it. It’s been truly incredible to see the growth, but it hasn’t come without a cost.

From what I can tell, the future looks bright.”

How to Get Involved

breast cancer car tag
Show your support everywhere you go! Photo via BCRFA

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, which means someone in your circle will almost certainly be impacted one way or another. Join the fight in honor of them.

Through the BCRFA, I have found a community of people who are passionate about raising money to better the lives of those affected by breast cancer.

From the survivor’s perspective, I couldn’t be more honored that others are willing to put in time and money to fight against this disease.”

Audra Chiles, Breast Cancer Survivor

Here are a few ways to get involved with BCRFA:

  • Purchase a Car Tag: Alabama’s breast cancer research tag is available for cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats. It’s a great way to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research in our state. The best part? 100% of funds received go to local research.
  • Attend Events: There are more than a dozen events and campaigns happening this October to support BCRFA. You can read about all of them here, but we picked out a few fun ways you can get involved:

💕 Pink Up The Pace 2020: This virtual running challenge allows participants to compete in several categories including a timed 5K.
💕 Cahaba Brewing Goes Pink for BCRFA: Stop by Cahaba Brewing Company anytime during the month of October to order DD’s Cherry Hibiscus Sour. Proceeds benefit BCRFA.
💕 brick & tin: brick & tin’s Mountain Brook location will donate 10% of all sales during the weekend of October 17-19 to support local breast cancer research.

Follow BCRFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with their lifesaving work.

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  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.