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Winn-Dixie breast cancer campaign begins

Anyone who isn’t thinking about breast cancer probably hasn’t walked through the doors of a Winn-Dixie Supermarket lately.

The company on Monday launched its “Touching Lives for a Better Tomorrow” campaign to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and raise money to provide treatment and find a cure for the disease.

Because the disease is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 54, there are very few people unaffected by it. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.

Not restricted solely to women, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America predicts more than 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

For some employees of Winn-Dixie, the campaign is more than just an issue of raising money.

“I’m glad to see that people are doing what they can. I lost my mother to this,” said Larry Crane, manager of the Dallas Avenue store. “Lord, it’d be great if in my lifetime we could find a cure for this. I’m just proud to work for a company that’s involved in this. It’s just something we’ve all got to take to heart and do our part in.”

There are several different ways customers can contribute, first by making a donation of anywhere between 50 cents and $500 to the American Cancer Society at checkout.

Several vendors are using pink as their color scheme for October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and buying these products ensures a portion of money goes toward breast cancer research. That includes special flower arrangements in the floral department and items in the bakery.

Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie is also the title sponsor of “Making Strides Against Cancer,” a series of 28 noncompetitive walks that begins in Mobile on Oct. 25.

Linda Kay O’Reilly, “Making Strides” director for the American Cancer Society’s Florida division, said the walks raised $5.4 million last year.

There’s no telling how many women’s lives were spared because of it.

“Because of early detection efforts and treatment, more than 1.7 million American women who have had breast cancer are still with us,” said Terry Grooms Derreberry, Winn-Dixie’s manager of corporate donations. “It’s an important fight, and we’re committed to helping find a cure.”

Some stores are also giving out pink bracelets, including the one located on Highland Avenue. Store manager Jerry Houston said he has already heard positive response to the campaign.

“With so much emphasis being put on awareness, it’s good that we’ve got a neighborhood supermarket coming together to find a cure,” said Houston.