Posted on Wed, Apr. 12, 2006
Jacquelyn Lannutti, Drexel Student, Norristown, PA, speaks with Marilyn Russell
By Marilyn Russell
At long last spring has arrived. Now we get to play outside YAY! Knowing full well the generosity of the people in the tri state area, playing outdoors this spring and summer will invariably include taking part in charity walks, runs, bike races and golf tourneys all over the Delaware Valley. One of the big oneís has already begun in some parts of the country and happens in Philadelphia, Sunday, May 14th, Motherís Day. This year The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is celebrating itís 23rd anniversary and has grown to over 100 cities and expects almost 1.5 million participants. As many of you know, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was founded on a promise made between two sisters Ė Susan Goodman Komen and Nancy Goodman Brinker. Suzy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978, when little was known about the disease and it was rarely discussed in public. Before she died at the age of 36, Suzy asked her sister to do everything possible to bring an end to breast cancer. The rest as they say is history.
Twenty-three years later, itís grown into much more than a 5K run. Head to Komen.org to see what I mean Ė thereís lots of ways to get involved. And, if you canít run, you can always shop, right? In the Komen Marketplace, youíll find everything from pink ribbons, pink pajamas, key chains, Motherís Day Cards and lots of great gift items to choose from, the proceeds of which benefit the Foundation.
And, speaking of gifts, thatís exactly what our WOTW this week has personally designed. She is Jacquelyn Lannutti from Norristown,
PA. In addition to being the youngest Woman of the Week (and possibly most adorable), Jacqueline is a student at Drexel, who lost her
Aunt Dot to breast cancer. Consequently, Jackie joined the race for the cure back in 2004 and found it to be a ďlife-changing
experience.Ē This year, sheís come up with a really creative way to get sponsors involved and support her on Motherís Day as she
walks for the cure.
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WOTW: We can see from the photo, youíve designed champagne glasses with hope as the theme Ė what was the inspiration for this
Jacquelyn: It actually started out that I was simply trying to come up with an idea of what to get my boyfriends Mom for Christmas last year. I really like to give personalized gifts. My boyfriendís Mom, Bette and her sisters (Barb and Bev) are all very close and all very involved with the Komen Foundation as they lost their Mom to breast cancer. My original plan was to get them wine, champagne or glasses, and then I thought, ďwhy not put the two together.Ē Thatís how I came up with the champagne flutes with hope on one side, and the pink ribbon on the other.
WOTW: How old were you when you lost your Aunt?
Jacquelyn: I was only a sophomore in high school when my Aunt Dot died. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and because I was so young, I didnít even fully realize what was going on. It wasnít even clear to me that she had breast cancer until I was a little older. I still remember the first time I saw her without her wig as it made everything much more real to me.
WOTW: Where you very close to her?
Jacquelyn: My whole family is very close. Since so many of us are here in Norristown, every holiday, birthday, and celebration thereís a gathering. Sometimes, we donít even need a reason or occasion, just a sunny day, some burgers, a grill and our swimsuits!
WOTW: Can you explain the rewards of taking part in the Race for the Cure?
Jacquelyn: When I completed the race for the first time in 2004, I couldnít believe how great it made me feel. It truly was a life changing experience for me. When I saw the sea of people covering the steps of the Art Museum, many of whom were wearing t-shirts or carrying signs that bore with the names of people they were walking for, I was completely overwhelmed. They were walking for sisters, Mothers, Aunts, cousins, Grandparents, friends, everyone was represented and I was proud to be a part of it.
WOTW: So how did the flute glasses go from a gift idea to a full-blown promotional fund-raising idea?
Jacquelyn: I designed the flutes and afterwards found a glassware company that made custom champagne glasses for weddings to make them for me. First, I checked with the Komen Foundation regarding the use of the pink ribbon and ďhope,Ē one of their unofficial mottos. Initially, I was going to purchase about a dozen. Then, I decided to turn it into a way to fundraise because I suspected that once friends of the Mariani family (my boyfriendís family) saw the glasses, they may want to purchase some. It was the Mariani family that encouraged me to get involved with the Race for the Cure and they are an inspiration to me. Additionally, I was certain my family would be interested in buying a few as a way to help sponsor me on the 14th of May. I even felt certain (and had hope) that other breast cancer activists in the Philadelphia area would like my idea and potentially make a contribution. So a dozen turned into 700 glasses!
WOTW: How much are you hoping to raise?
Jacquelyn: Iím hoping to raise about $2,000 to donate in my Auntís name (Dorothy Detweiler), to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. But, now I have a lot of other promotional ideas. I have recently begun contacting news stations, sports teams and local businesses for support. Iím also hoping to put together some kind of event/benefit where the champagne flutes can be utilized. Of course, I canít do this alone.
WOTW: Since thereís a family connection, are you concerned about your own health? Do you take precautions?
Jacquelyn: I realize that thereís a blood connection, so I do get annual check ups, as do the other women in my family. Currently, Iím a sophomore at Drexel University majoring in Business Administration. A lot of times when I get into conversations with people, theyíre surprised that someone my age is so involved. They congratulate me for taking an active stance to enact change and create awareness in my community. I know that many young people have the opportunity to make a difference, and I encourage them to do so.
WOTW: I know youíve been putting flyers all over campus and the word is starting to spread, so how can we help?
Jacquelyn: I can be contacted at PinkRibbonGlasses@yahoo.com or by phone at 610-505-0362. Glasses are $10 each, two for $15, or four for $25. These prices do not include shipping however I will gladly make arrangements to meet supporters in Philadelphia, Norristown, and Downingtown. I accept cash, check and credit card via PayPal online. After getting to know Jackie, we wish her success in this endeavor and of course, we can make the case to George Bernard Shaw that, indeed, youth is not always wasted on the young.
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Jacquelyn Lannutti, a sophomore in the LeBow College of Business, was recognized as Philly.com's Woman of the Week. Lannutti, who works as a resident assistant in Kelly Hall, was nominated for the award because of her recent fund-raiser supporting breast cancer research. "The award goes out to a woman in the Philadelphia area who has done exemplary service or gone outside, above and beyond, what a normal citizen has done," Lannutti said. "For a special cause, going through something rough in their life, that sort of stuff."
Lannutti was introduced to breast cancer research in 2004 through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by Glen Mariani, a sophomore majoring in business administration and construction management, and his family."My family was never involved in the breast cancer scene as the Marianis were. On Mother's Day, 2005, I [participated in] the annual Race for the Cure in Philadelphia. It was amazing. So many families, friends, co-workers, all gathered in front of the Art Museum preparing for the walk. I knew then that I wanted to get involved, too."
The race takes place in front of the Art Museum at Eakins Oval every Mother's Day. There are both one- and five-kilometer races, which participants can either walk or run. In addition to her participation in past races, this year Lannutti personally designed champagne glasses to sell for charity.She is sending the proceeds to the Komen Foundation, which organizes the Race for the Cure every year. "Initially, I was only going to purchase a dozen glasses," Lannutti said. "Then, I decided to turn it into a big fund-raiser." "I knew I would be able to sell glasses to my family and to many other breast cancer activists in the Philadelphia area. In the end, I purchased over 700 champagne flutes, and all the money I raise will be donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation in memory of my Aunt Dot, who died from breast cancer in 2002. I am hoping to raise $2,000 in time for this year's race."
Barbara Orr, a previous winner of the Woman of the Week award, nominated Lannutti for the award in conjunction with her PR firm in Chicago. Orr wanted to help Lannutti gain exposure and recognition for her breast cancer fund-raiser. Since then, Lannutti has sold twice as many glasses - she has now sold 135.
Lannutti's friends are proud of her achievement and are inspired by her efforts. "I think that it's pretty remarkable," said Alexandra Totokotsopoulos, a freshman majoring in hotel and restaurant management. "Jackie has been put through a lot of leadership positions throughout her life and each one she has encountered, she has mastered."
"I think it's a good idea that students get involved because more people we know are affected with cancer," said Jamie Bambino, a freshman majoring in hotel and restaurant management. "The more that younger people start getting involved, the bigger impact it'll have on other people."
"I think it's good that she won this award, and hopefully she will help a lot of
people," said Matthew Fenn, a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering.
"It's people like Jackie that remind us how much good we still have in
this world," said Nate Miller, a freshman majoring in biological sciences.
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