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Brakes For Breasts Hits Million-Dollar Milestone

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Brakes for Breasts, the organization spearheaded by Leigh Anne Best, marketing director of Mighty Auto Pro and Laura Frank, co-owner of Auto Repair Technology that fundraises to support breast cancer research, has wrapped up its 10th year, hitting a major milestone in the process.

As the organization continues to tally its total funds raised through this year’s nationwide donated brake pad program, the group has officially passed the $1 million-dollar mark, reaching an impressive milestone for the organization and the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Fund.

Ratchet+Wrench checked in with advisory board member Leigh Anne Best to learn of other big wins from this year’s efforts and the organization’s plans for the future.

After the donation period of the program, what typically comes next in the process?

From the first day of November through the end of the month we’re collecting donations raised from all of the shops that participated. Shops can send in their donations online and we were so proud to see we’ve already passed the $1 million-dollar mark, which is just incredible and will go so far.

And you reached this milestone with no marketing or promotional budget?

That’s right. Brakes for Breasts literally operates on a budget of $0. Laura and I are working purely as volunteers to put everything together each year so anything and everything we’re doing to promote the organization has to be completely organic.

When things pop up, we’ve got to jump into action and make it happen. Whether that’s trademarking the Brakes for Breasts or building a website (Laura actually built our first website with no experience and the help of some very detailed YouTube videos) so grassroots promotion has gone a long way for this program. Which is just another reason we’re so blown away by this year’s support (and the support of every year since we’ve started).

What will a contribution like this year’s mean for the research being done to find a breast cancer vaccine?

As Dr. Vincent Tuohy (who leads a laboratory team for the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund) says, we pay for his helping hands, his researchers. To get the work done to see this vaccine through, he needs help and these donations are a big reason that work is able to get done. It’s a very expensive endeavor and we’re so excited our work and the help of all of the shops that participate with donations can help move that forward.

We just learned that the U.S. Department of Defense has also given the Fund a large donation as well which is this huge vote of confidence that this project has potential and the faster we can get the team funds, the faster we can nip [breast cancer] in the bud. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but we’re so close.

What are some of the highlights of this year’s program?

We’ve had so many big moments this year. Hitting the $1 million-dollar mark but we also really expanded the reach and impact of the program.

This year we had 171 shops across 35 states and two countries participate. We had our first Canadian shop participate this year, taking the program international and GIC Car Clinic in San Jose, Calif. Actually got a local broadcast news spot this year on their participation in the program in Mandarin which was just so fun to see, that the program is bringing together so many shops from so many cultures and connecting communities across the country. Gary Olson over at Airport Automotive in Colorado Springs actually bought our first-ever Brakes for Breasts billboards and truly helped put this on the map.

Any big plans for next year’s program or the future of the organization at large?

It’s funny, when we started in 2011, it was just five shops in Ohio and we all knew each other. We came up with the idea in September and thought, why not go for it? We raised $10,000 and we realized, this thing has legs so we thought, let’s see what we can do! We started calling shops and they’d fax over a registration.

Over the years, we’ve grown so much, developed a real web presence, automated the sign up process a bit. Now the donations are sent in online (no more physical checks), email communications keep everyone updated. It’s all really fine-tuned so the goal is to focus on growing that group of shops interested in participating. It’s really catching on in the industry and I think if we can keep that interest growing we can keep that momentum building on the research that will get us to the finish line.

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