Pink flags decorated the streets, and patrons in pink shirts filled establishments throughout downtown Clumbia on Saturday evening in celebration of breast cancer awareness month and Columbia’s fourth annual Pink Pursuit.
The charity event, created and organized by Liz Schulte, has raised funds for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center’s mobile mammography program each year since 2010.
Approximately 70 locals participated in a night full of trivia crawls, a cocktail party and a silent auction.
“I’ve enjoyed raising money and awareness for breast cancer while having a little bit of fun,” Schulte said. “It’s such a serious issue, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t enjoy yourself while taking on such a serious cause.”
Registration for the event took place at Nash Vegas from 4-6 p.m. A $35 fee provided a pink T-shirt that read “Check the Tissue that Causes the Issue,” a gift bag and a ticket that could be redeemed for free drinks or food at participating downtown establishments.
Five Columbia restaurants — Room 38, Subshop, Tellers Gallery and Bar, Shakespeare’s Pizza and Broadway Brewery and Restaurant — contributed to the trivia crawl activity. At each location, participants received a free pink drink in honor of breast cancer awareness month.
Room 38 also offered patrons a complimentary appetizer, and Subshop provided quarter sub sandwiches.
Completing a trivia game at any one of the restaurants earned the player a stamp on his or her ticket. Participants who earned five stamps could enter a prize drawing.
Columbia resident Devon Reed attended the event for the first time this year.
“I was pretty excited about it since I’m a nurse and feel strongly about the cause,” she said. “A lot of the trivia questions I answered were actually health questions, which I liked.”
As the trivia activity concluded at 8 p.m., participants gathered at Quinton’s and Tonic for a cocktail party on the patio. Attendees enjoyed free food and beverages provided by the restaurant, music, dancing and a silent auction featuring items donated from around the community.
Former Missouri athletes such as men’s basketball players J.T. Tiller, Jarrett Sutton and Zaire Taylor, and football player Jeremy Maclin donated autographed T-shirts with pink handprints on them.
Both men’s and women’s basketball teams autographed a Missouri cooler, which was sold for $1,000.
Arbor Bed and Breakfast and Guest Spa in Herman donated a certificate for a free night of stay for the last three years. This year, the certificate was sold for $190.
MU graduate Ryan Krueger said he has been going to Pink Pursuit events since its inception in 2009.
“(Pink Pursuit) is a lot of fun and a good organization that actually gives all of their money directly to breast cancer prevention,” Krueger said. “I always bid on the bed and breakfast giveaways over in Herman but have always lost. And I have gotten really good autographed memorabilia from former Mizzou players who have moved onto professional leagues.”
Schulte said she was satisfied to have surpassed her initial goal of $10,000 with $11,000 raised. All of the proceeds will fund mammography for uninsured women being serviced by Ellis Fischel’s mobile mammography van.
The 44-foot vehicle is equipped with a fully inclusive breast screening clinic. The “Mamm Van,” a nickname coined by many hospital personnel, operates in mid-Missouri, servicing women in rural areas.
In 2012, the Mamm Van traveled more than 17,000 miles, to approximately 60 locations in 30 counties across the state.
“The private philanthropy in health care is more important today than it has ever been before,” said Kellie Coats, director of development at MU Health Care. “Especially with the Affordable Care Act that is coming into play, we really don’t know how that’s going to affect us as a safety net hospital.”