A Rainbow of Ribbons

It all started with a peach-colored ribbon. In the early 1990s, breast cancer survivor Charlotte Haley personally distributed hand-made peach ribbons to people at shopping centers near her California home. She asked people to wear the ribbon and write to their legislators. Along with the ribbons, she gave each person a card saying, “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

As word spread and Haley gained more and more publicity, eventually executives from Est‚e Lauder and Self magazine asked Haley for permission to use her ribbon. But Haley refused, so the magazine came up with its own color: pink. Soon Haley’s grassroots peach ribbon was history, and the pink ribbon became the worldwide symbol for breast cancer and a multi-billion dollar breast cancer awareness product industry.

Last year, the documentary film “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” exposed how some companies use pink ribbon-related marketing to increase sales while contributing only a small fraction of proceeds to the cause or to improve their public image while manufacturing products that may be carcinogenic.

Think Before You Pink (www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org), a project of Breast Cancer Action, launched in 2002 in response to the growing concern about the overwhelming number of pink ribbon products and promotions on the market. The campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions.

At the same time, billions of dollars have gone to breast cancer and other disease research as a result of awareness campaigns like the pink ribbon project. While no one can deny that raising awareness is a good thing, the way some companies go about doing it deserves some scrutiny.

Many groups have adopted colored ribbons as symbols of support or awareness. Here’s a look at the rainbow of ribbon colors out there. Some causes often share a color, and some may be represented by more than one color.

Breast cancer awareness www.komen.org

Epilepsy awarenesswww.epilepsyfoundation.org
Craniosynostosis awareness www.cranioangelnetwork.com

Lung cancer awareness www.nationallungcancerpartnership.org
Alliance for Safe Motherhood www.whiteribbonalliance.org
Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Disease (SCID) Screening www.primaryimmune.org

Soldier support www.supportourtroops.org
Bone cancer/Osteosarcoma awareness www.bad-2-the-bone.org
Endometriosis awareness www.endocenter.org
Craniofacial acceptance www.CCAKids.org

Autism awareness www.autism-society.org

Child abuse awareness www.childwelfare.gov
Bullying awareness www.bullying.org
Tuberous Sclerosis awareness www.tsalliance.org
Colon cancer awareness www.fightcolorectalcancer.org

Type 1 Diabetes awareness www.jdrf.org

Hepatitis B and liver cancer awareness www.liver.stanford.edu

Carcinoid & neuroendocrine tumor awareness www.carcinoid.org

Crime victims of stalking and electronic harassment www.ircampaign.info

Prostate cancer awareness www.thepcap.org

Mental health awareness www.nami.org
Lyme disease awareness www.lymedisease.org

Animal cruelty/animal welfarewww.animal-rights-action.com
Chronic migraine awareness www.chronicmigraineawareness.com
LGBT Support www.glaad.org/spiritday
Lupus awareness www.lupus.org
Alzheimer’s Disease awareness www.alz.org
Pancreatic cancer awareness www.pancan.org
March of Dimes www.marchforbabies.org

Genetic disorder/rare disease awareness www.globalgenes.org

Male breast cancer awareness www.malebreastcancer.org
Infertility awareness www.resolve.org
Infant loss awareness www.october15th.com

Stomach cancer www.cantstomachcancer.org
Esophageal cancer www.ecaware.org
Pulmonary hypertension awareness www.phassociation.org

Leukemia awareness www.lls.org
Multiple Sclerosis awareness www.nationalmssociety.org

Environmental awareness www.nrdc.org
Cerebral Palsy awareness www.ucp.org
Celiac Disease awareness www.celiac.org
Organ transplant and organ donation awareness www.organdonor.gov

AIDS awareness www.aids.gov
Heart Disease awarenesswww.heart.org

Borderline personality disorder awareness www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com
Diabetes awareness www.diabetes.org
Brain cancer awareness www.milesforhope.org
Asthma awareness www.aafa.org
Brain disorders and disabilities – www.silverribbon.org

Mourning and remembrance of death www.griefshare.org
Melanoma awareness www.melanomaawarenessfoundation.org
Black Lung awareness www.umwa.org

Scleroderma awareness www.scleroderma.org
Sexual assault and sexual violence awareness www.nsvrc.org
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome awareness www.pcosupport.org
Anxiety disorder awareness www.adaa.org

Childhood cancer awareness www.acco.org

Hodgkin’s lymphoma awareness www.thehodgeshop.com

Cervical cancer awareness www.nccc-online.org

Adults with disabilities awareness www.addpa.org
Brain aneurysm awareness www.bafound.org
Headaches/migraines awareness www.migraines.org

Noonan syndrome awareness www.noonansyndrome.org

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