By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON HARBOR — Anthony Cobb and R.J. Corning’s workplace attire has become more noticeably pink the past few weeks.
That’s because the two Whirlpool Corp. employees are among the 13 West Michigan participants in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign.
During the month of October, the two co-workers have encouraged the women in their lives to take action to battle breast cancer. In doing so, they have committed to wearing pink clothing and accessories everyday in October, while trying to raise a minimum of $2,500 each.
With a stretch target of $5,000 per person, the money goes toward the American Cancer Society. Throughout the country and different regions of each state, a small selection of men have dedicated themselves to the cause.
Cobb, senior manager of Talent Management at Whirlpool, has a special reason for participating in the fundraising program.
His wife is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Cobb said both times that the cancer was discovered, she had found it herself.
“Her tagline is women should take their health into their own hands,” Cobb said. “She is a big advocate for self exams.”
Halfway through October, Cobb has added incentives for any man within his social community. If they post a picture of themselves in pink clothing, Cobb has pledged to donate $5 on their behalf. He’s also agreed to pay $10 to anyone who posts a picture and donates money. Cobb said he plans to get creative for the tail-end of the campaign.
During these past few weeks, Cobb has found a large showing of support around the home appliance maker’s headquarters and through social media.
“I’ve been able to generate some good participation with folks,” Cobb said in reference to the Facebook posts. “A couple days after I did this, they got the message. They knew they didn’t have to post pictures after a while – I really just wanted the donation. I’m starting to get more and more of them offering up a few dollars toward the campaign.”
When he was talking to a senior director in supply chain and referenced the campaign, Cobb was surprised by a coworker’s history with cancer as well.
“She went and gave a really nice contribution,” Cobb said. “But the storyline behind it was she had recently been affected with family members who were going through different types of cancer. People don’t always share what’s happening to them. You never know where people are coming from. What I’ve been appreciative of is when people always say, ‘you’re wearing a lot of pink.’ And that opens the door for why I’m wearing it. Then I can start to talk about the campaign.”
The campaign comes with a joint effort from Ryan Holland and the rest of the Health and Wellness Department, which has supported Cobb and Corning while also holding community events – like the Mammogram Event at Lakeland Health that granted various residents opportunities to get checked for breast cancer.
Corning, a senior director of Human Resources-North America, is the other Whirlpool employee taking part in Real Men Wear Pink. He was asked to do the campaign in the beginning of August.
Between Corning and Cobb, they’ve bought pink shirts, socks and shoes. Corning said the big thing is for women to be diligent about not only breast cancer, but overall health care.
“While October might end, the cause doesn’t end, the focus shouldn’t end,” Corning said. “We appreciate everyone’s support so far. We’re just looking forward to the ongoing support beyond this.”
Renee Burmeister, account manager for corporate relations at the American Cancer Society, said this is the inaugural group. The plan is for all 13 men to nominate 13 others for the 2017 campaign.
“There’s plenty of room for more men,” Burmeister said. “They’ve been a great source of inspiration for all other men behind the campaign. We’re very fortunate to have their support for the campaign.”
Anyone who needs information regarding screenings or cancer diagnosis can visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.