Owners and franchisees of 20 northern Nevada 7-11 stores used October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month to raise money by selling vibrant pink t-shirts and collecting money on their countertops from local visitors. On Thursday, the efforts of locals -- $12,000 worth -- were funneled into the Renown Health Foundation at Renown Regional Medical Center and will specifically help northern Nevadans dealing with breast cancer.
Many 7-11 owners gathered Thursday at Roy Brennan’s store on Pyramid Way in Sparks to hand off the $12,000 check to members of Renown. Brennan said David and Rhonda St. Onge, owners of two 7-11s in South Lake Tahoe, were instrumental in the fundraising efforts.
“We searched everywhere locally that was active in breast cancer treatment, diagnosis, and so forth to make sure we had an appropriate recipient,” David said. “In our conversation, we can’t think of anybody that doesn’t have somebody in their family or life that has been touched by breast cancer. It is so devastating and humiliating for some women, and they are scared of it. We thought it was a positive thing we could get behind and we are hoping we can help make an impact.”
David said the most important component of 7-11’s partnership with Renown was “keeping things local” and he said the owners worked tirelessly to ensure that their donated funds were going to be used in northern Nevada. He said he would buy frequent visitors’ coffee upon checkout if they used their money for breast cancer awareness, and he added that locally donated money should stay in the region.
“Everything that we do is local,” he said. “Our customers are local, our franchisees, our sales associates are all local. We want people to say ‘I put that money in and I saw it go to a local hospital for my cousin or my sister.’
“We are looking forward to bringing it back next year. We really want to thank our customers because they are the ones who made this happen. All of our sales associates and owners pitched in a ton of time and money, but our customers really helped us and they bought the t-shirts to help us raise the money.”
Bobbi Gillis, breast cancer nurse navigator at Renown, said the funds generated by the 7-11 stores will allow local, eligible patients to apply for the money to use for transportation costs, medication co-pay and several other tasks and Gillis added “the money will go directly to our patients who are in need.”
“It’s huge,” Gillis said. “With the gas cards of $100 each, we are going to give $250 per patient per grant application and that will help immensely with patients trying to get to and from treatment or trying to get their side effect medication co-pays, and those patients who aren’t able to afford a biopsy, they will be able to so. It is going to be huge.”
Gillis said the statistics behind cancer and breast cancer are daunting and provide a harsh reality for the medical world. She said 7-11 chose a great cause to donate to.
“In this day and age, cancer touches one out of every three people at one time or another,” she said. “One in eight women will contract breast cancer during their life. We always used to think family history and genetics were the factor, but there is only 10 percent of my patients who have a genetic link. The rest is just chaotic of why people are getting breast cancer and it is something we are very very good at treating if we find it at an early stage.
“We are so very appreciative of this donation and our patients are really going to benefit from this really generous donation.”
Renown’s Vice President of Fund Development Joel Muller said 7-11’s funds may provide the difference between survival and death for some patients at Renown. He said the fight against breast cancer is a constant battle and every dollar counts, especially when the patients are on the home front.
“7-11 is a difference maker for our community today,” Muller said. “Some of these patient assistance funds could be used in a manner that they might be the difference between someone’s ability to receive treatment or not.
“I think for 7-11 and their customers it is a real statement of caring, and once you have experienced (breast cancer) yourself or you have seen a family member go through the journey you get that much more motivated to help someone who might not be able to help themselves. We have seen a great outpouring of support from 7-11 and their customers.”