Irwindale Police Sgt . Rudy Gatto was at the Starbucks drive-through when the young woman at the window noticed the pink patch on his uniform . She asked about it and then called her co-workers to the window as well .
“ Just the stimulating conversation with the community is incredible ,” says Gatto , who added that this particular conversation occurred within the first hour of Irwindale Police officers starting to wear their pink patches in the community in 2015 . “ It ’ s really staggering to think the kind of impact it ’ s having on the community .”
In addition to raising funds for breast cancer research , this kind of dialogue is one of the Pink Patch Project ’ s key goals . According to the Pink Patch Project , about one in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime and breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women .
“ We want to find a cure , we want to fight cancer and raise awareness ,” says Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda , who got the basic idea of wearing pink patches as a way to support October ’ s Breast Cancer Awareness Month from the Seal Beach Police Department , which did this in 2013 .
In 2015 , Irwindale Police developed a more expanded version of the idea and had a goal of raising $ 10,000 by selling the patches in the community . They doubled their target goal by raising $ 20,000 .
“ It ’ s very , very personal and the energy is incredible that [ participating agencies ] bring to the project ,” says Miranda .
With such great success , Miranda decided to go even bigger this year , inviting the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs ’ Association to participate . The participants list has grown consistently ( at 71 agencies as of Oct . 14 ), including departments all over California , and even several out-ofstate agencies as well .
“ It ’ s really kind of a collaborative effort between all these agencies ,” says Gatto .
Many agencies have really taken the idea and run with it , according to Gatto . Some stick to the pink patches , while others sell T-shirts , plush animals , license plate frames , challenge coins , etc .
One agency even received a donated women ’ s diamond ring to sell raffle tickets for and give proceeds to the Pink Patch Project Fund for Cancer . Each agency selects a local breast cancer group to support and runs its fundraising efforts independently – determining marketing , promotions and sales on a local level . Each agency also handles its own record keeping and works directly with the local organization receiving the donations .
There has been collaboration among agencies – including a Pink Patch Project booth at the recent Los Angeles County Fair , which sold patches and T-shirts from several different agencies and collectively raised $ 30,000 in just four weeks .