Almost everyone has a pair of jeans they will never wear sitting in the back of their closet. This week, instead of allowing them to collect more dust, fashionistas can donate them to charitable cause and get a new pair in return.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, downtown Davis boutique Renew Denim is partnering with Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to women with a history of genetic cancer in their family, to host the first annual “Fix Our Genes” event.
Renew Denim will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the event. Outside the store, members of FORCE will hand out pamphlets and flyers to educate people about genetic cancers and the options they have if they are predisposed to cancer.
Inside, people will be able to drop off their old jeans and, in exchange, receive 50 percent off a new pair of jeans inside the store. In addition, all the jeans donated that day will be on sale to purchase for $10.
Prizes will be given out throughout the day. The first 50 people to arrive will receive goodie bags. At the end of each day, raffle prizes will be given out. For every $10 donation, whether it is a pair of jeans or a monetary donation, their name will be put in a raffle.
“So far we have had a free facial donated, a free pair of jeans and other donations from local businesses,” said Samantha Ballard, owner of Renew Denim and co-coordinator of the event.
Raychel Kubby Adler, volunteer outreach coordinator for FORCE in the Greater Sacramento Region and co-coordinator of the event, said it is important for people to know about their chances before it is too late.
“Usually what happens is that someone has breast or ovarian cancer and then gathers resources about it. But the proactive piece is missing. So for me, I feel like my mission is to try and help people know about [this] before something bad or tragic happens.”
Adler came up with the idea to connect ‘genes’ with ‘jeans’ back in June while she was at a conference for FORCE speaking about creative ways to get the word out about genetic cancers.
“To do denim and the whole play on words is just sort of a perfect situation. The FORCE is very excited about this and the fact that Samantha agreed to do it. The target of FORCE is really to reach out to younger women who don’t really know about this. They are really looking forward to taking this national next year so we are the pilot to see how it goes,” Adler said.
For Adler, this event is near to her heart. When she was in college her older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. At the time, genetic cancers weren’t “flagged” as they are now. Later, her mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. But still, Adler did not think to get tested.
“I was in college, and not thinking about any of this because why would you. It just sort of went out of my brain. And then over the years my sister was getting sicker and she begged me to get tested because for her that was all she had left that she could do,” Adler said.
But now, Adler is hoping that young college students who are in similar situations do not wait like she did but rather get tested before it is too late.
In the United States alone, more than one million people carry a genetic factor that puts them at high risk for cancer, according to the FORCE official website. But, until recently, much of the money raised for cancer research has gone to finding a cure once a person is diagnosed and not to preventing the cancer from occurring in the first place, Adler said.
“Just because you are tested and find out you have the gene, that doesn’t mean you are limited to one option. There are so many choices and one of them is just increased surveillance,” Adler said.
Ballard said she was very excited when Adler pitched the idea to her and is looking forward to the event.
“The main goal is to raise awareness and to get a ton of traffic. I’m hoping that people who don’t want to buy new jeans would make donations. Then they would have an opportunity to get 50 percent off,” Ballard said.
The event is taking place in the middle of National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week. The first day of the event on Wednesday is actually National “Previvor” day. “Cancer Previvors” according to the FORCE official website, are “survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer or some other predisposing factor.”
Adler, a Previvor herself, is hoping this event will be a fun way to educate college students and others about genetic cancers.
As Adler explained: “Knowledge is power to be a Previvor!”
CLAIRE MALDARELLI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.