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LEE NATIONAL DENIM DAY : 3rd October
- Paromita Ray Datta, Denim Club India
Perhaps one of the best examples of combining corporate social responsibility with a worthwhile cause is Lee National Denim Day. Started in 1996 by Lee jeans to support the Women’s Cancer Programs of The Entertainment Industry Foundation, the event has emerged as one of the largest single-day fundraisers in America. It has raised more than $70 million.

People are encouraged to go casual, or to be more precise, wear their jeans to work and donate $5 to fight breast cancer. For that one day wearing jeans is suddenly not just some kind of fashion statement. `Wear denim to show you care’, seems to be the mantra. One might call it clever advertising, but nobody’s objecting.

The Event
Lee organizes the Denim Day in October, the Breast Cancer Awareness month. This year it will fall on October 3. People join in individually or as a group. A new team registers itself on www.denimday.com . Existing teams have to re-register. As an individual one can join an existing team or make donation by mail or online. On registration teams receive free participation kits that contain posters, pink ribbon pins and other items.

Teams are then encouraged to promote themselves and thereby the Denim Day. One ready way is the team page that is created the moment a team registers. Here the team can upload its personal story, fundraising goal, share photos, communicate with other team members and collect donations. A team can set a goal, collect funds and then make the donation online or through mail. Or it can ask its member to log on to the team page and do it individually. Similarly, an individual can do the same thing online or through mail. They can also avail coupons provided in the participation kit. Again $5 on any purchase goes to the cause.

Many organizations across the USA take active part in the Denim Day celebrations. They vary from high schools to multi million dollar companies. Seminars, discussions and other related discussions take place across many of the nation’s institute.

Lee organizes this event mainly in the United States of America. Interested people from other countries may also join in. However they are not given out the participation kit.

Beneficiaries
The fundraiser is in collaboration with the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s women cancer program. The charitable organization funds research to fight against the disease. The funding is in three directions.

The first part deals with the treatment. The aim is to fund Lee Jeans Laboratories’ research on breast cancer for safe treatment as well as increase patient accessibility for more clinical trials.

The proceeds are also used for early detection of this deadly disease. The funds go in support of Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Breast Cancer Biomarker Discovery Project. It is a ground- breaking mission led by some of the world’s leading doctors to develop a blood test for early detection of the cancer.

The third part of the total proceeds are channeled towards education. It is used to assist the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund to develop a better information campaign for the patients. They can now make more informed decisions based on the various choices available to them.

In other words the funds deal with the three aspects of fighting any fatal disease such as breast cancer, namely detection, cure and education.

History
It all started in 1996 by Lee jeans. Interestingly the seeds of one of the largest single-day fundraiser came from casual everyday conversation. A group of employees while chatting realised that almost of them have been effected by breast cancer in some form or the other. From there, the idea snowballed into the Lee National Denim Day.

Originally, 100% of the proceeds were donated to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Now Lee National Denim Day has partnered with the Women’s Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The first ten years of Denim Day have been focused on education and awareness. The second decade of Denim Day will focus on funding specific research projects working to find a cure for breast cancer. The Komen Foundation received more than $61 million in the first decade. In its inaugural year the company set a goal of $1 million. More than 3000 companies participated. The fundraiser was declared to be a roaring success with $1.4 million in the kitty.

In 2007 the numbers had shot up. Nearly 18,000 organisations took part and the funds accumulated have reached close to $70 million.

Promotion
One of the keys any such program’s success is its promotional activities. In the past Lee has roped in many celebrities to be the face of the campaign, including actors Pierce Brosnan, Lucy Liu, Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, Yasmeen Bleeth.

This year actors Chandra Wilson from Grey’s Anatomy and Tim Daly from Private Practice have been named the ambassadors for the campaign. The actors appear in a public service campaign titled Who do you love. Both talk about their reasons for supporting the program. Wilson talks about how breast cancer has struck her family, while Daly talks about a friend who is battling with the disease. They encourage people to put on their jeans and pink ribbon to show support for the cause and donate $5 for the cause.

Facts and Figures
The incidence of breast cancer in India is on the rise and has become the number one cancer in females overtaking the cervical cancer to the second spot.

It is reported that one in 22 women in India is likely to suffer from breast cancer during her lifetime. Recent Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data shows that the incidence of breast cancer is high among Indian females in the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi.

It is more common in spinsters, or if married then have not given birth to children, or if given birth then have not breast fed their offspring. A positive history of breast cancer in mother, sisters, and daughters increases the risk. Women with a past history of having breast cancer on one side are at a greater risk to develop cancer on the opposite side also, about 1 per cent per year and the lifetime risk is 10 per cent.

Resource details:

Resource details for facts and figures:

Some team websites for Lee National Denim Day:

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