Nfld. & Labrador

First pink tree planted for breast cancer fundraiser

A new fundraising campaign for breast cancer research launched with the planting of a pink tree in St. John's on Tuesday.
The first pink tree of the Pink Tree Project was planted on Tuesday, in front of the St. John's Transportation Commission on Messenger Drive. (CBC)

A new fundraising campaign for breast cancer research launched with the planting of a pink tree in St. John's on Tuesday.

The tree was planted as part of the Pink Tree Project in front of the St. John's Transportation Commission on Messenger Drive.

Linda Ryan, who started the Pink Tree Project, said a portion of each tree sold will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Atlantic Region. (CBC)

Linda Ryan, who started the Pink Tree Project and is a long-term Metrobus employee, said it's a variety of a cherry blossom tree.

"Cherry blossoms are a metaphor for life — beautiful, but fleeting. But they're also a sign of rebirth and strength," she said.

Trees will be available at participating garden centres across Newfoundland. A portion of each purchase will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Atlantic Region.

The funds raised will go towards breast cancer research, programs, and equipment throughout the Atlantic provinces.

Pink days

This isn't the first fundraiser that Ryan has spearheaded.

Back in 2011, when she was on medical leave recovering from treatments for breast cancer, Ryan spotted an ad for a plant sold through the company Proven Winners called the Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea. One dollar from every plant sold in the United States was put towards breast cancer research.

Ryan decided to search for the plant locally. Pat's Plants and Gardens in Bay Bulls had the plants for sale, and Ryan asked the owner if she would consider hosting a fundraising event.

They raised $2,500 at the first Pink Days in Bloom event in July 2011.

In 2012, the event grew to include seven hosting garden centres, and raised a total of $25,000.

Now in its third year, 20 Pink Days in Bloom events will be held across the island this gardening season.

The fundraiser has become so successful that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has made it one of its signature events.

"They're piloting it now in Atlantic Canada based on the Newfoundland success as a model," Ryan said.

Word of the program's local success has even spread south of the border.

Proven Winners has invited Ryan to attend a meeting in Grand Haven, Michigan later this month.

"They have asked me to give a presentation and to share the secrets of success for Pink Days in Bloom here in Newfoundland," she said.

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