Darlene Koch's Story In Her Own Words Part 1

Let me start by telling you how and why I became involved in fund raising for breast cancer. In 2008 Helen Chestnut, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen, came to the company where I work and gave a talk about breast cancer. As I listened I became very emotional and I remember thinking this was one disease I never want to get and I have to help but didn't know how. I did not know the first thing about collecting donations and I found the whole idea of asking for money scary.

That year I was watching The Apprentice with Donald Trump and I thought to myself how smart this man is! So as I watched I started taking notes so I could remember all of his words of wisdom and use them to help me raise money for breast cancer. He talked about collecting money for donations and one of the things he said was to go where the money is starting with your friends. I wanted to get started the next year, 2009 and I started making my plans. The first year I held garage sales and I asked everyone I could think of including friends and co-workers to donate anything they wanted to get rid of and things came in from all over. I love to decorate so when it was time for the garage sales I had the tables and walls of my carport covered in pink cloths and had things hanging from the ceiling and it turned out to be a big success! I wrote letters to my friends asking for donations and that turned out to be a success as well. Then I began to think about the advice from then Mr. Trump about going where the money was and I decided to go to the local Nieman Marcus. I took copies of the donation letter I had sent to my friends and headed to the underground parking garage. I started putting the letters under the window wipers of the cars and in a short time a security guard came up and asked me what I was doing. I told him what I was doing and he smiled and said it was a good cause, but went on to ask if I would please take them off the cars because if they blew off it would cause a mess. He told me that I could take the flyers upstairs and the lady at the desk would be happy to set them out for people to take. I never did get a donation from any customer however the security guard sent twenty dollars. That was my first year of collecting and I made a little over one thousand dollars and I was the top fund raiser at my company that year. That is how it all got started and I got the fever! I was determined the following year I will do more...I will raise more.

Moving on to 2010, I started making a jewelry pin using safety pins and I displayed them on pink cards and sold them for three dollars. Wanting to reach more people I decided to stop at one of the local grocery stores to ask if I could sell the pins at their store. I dressed all in pink and when I walked in the manager of the store saw all the pink and asked about it. She got all excited when I told her about it. She was a breast cancer survivor and told me one of the cashiers had finished treatments for breast cancer and just had her port taken out. She told me I would have to talk to the owner of the store about selling the pins and he said yes. That was the first time for me setting up a table and of course everything was pink! I even had a big see through jar for donations and I raised more money in donations than from sale of the pins. That year I made just under two thousand dollars and now I knew I was on a roll and that I could do even better in 2011.

I had so many beads leftover from 2011 and I wanted to do something with them. I decided to start making bracelets. It was more fun working on them than on the pins and I wasn't always sticking myself. In 2012 I had a garage sale and sold all my pins from the previous years and the bracelets were a big hit. I also continued to send out my letters asking for donations. 2013 came fast and I was making more money than ever. The bracelets were in high demand and I could hardly make them fast enough.

Then in February 2014 I went in for my yearly check-up which included a mammogram. I was contacted and told not to worry but I needed to come back in to have the mammogram rechecked.

I was called again and told they had set up an appointment for me on March 6,2014 to see a breast specialist. That was the day I found out I had breast cancer.

To be continued.

Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.