One of the most rewarding things about being an outdoor writer is the amazing people you encounter and the stories they share with you. One such person is Mary Hale, the spit-fire driving force behind the Pink Arrow Project. I recently had the pure pleasure of visiting with Mary and hearing her story of struggle and triumph and how it motivated her to help others stricken with cancer.
Once diagnosed with “stage 4” cancer herself and given only a 15% chance of survival, Mary found this was more then her family could handle alone.“So my “archery family” stepped up to the plate. They visited, called me, sent me flowers and funny t-shirts any thing that they thought would make me laugh. They held fundraisers to help with the expenses.” Mary explains. “One of my friends picked me up and took me to an archery event in Atlanta, they had a nice big room for me and after the shoot the girls would bring dinner to my room and sit on the bed and they would all tell me everything they did and how they shot, what fun we had!”
Over come with the emotions these memories stir Mary struggles to continue relaying her personal story. “After the 3rd time my family was told that I was not going to make it... well... I did make it through the night, again, but I decided to stop treatments, it had been a year and a half. So the (archery) club that I belonged to held a benefit shoot to raise money for my funeral. They were going to make sure I had a proper send off. But I fooled them, I keep living! So they decided to give me the money to use anyway I need too. As of Oct 18th I am 10 years out and working to prevent the dreaded cancer, we will find the prevention, I know we will.”
Motivated by her personal experience with the disease and out-pouring of love and support from her “archery family” Mary felt a new lease on life and channeled her energies to helping others. Together with Victory Archery she founded the Pink Arrow Project. The Pink Arrow Project is an organization which aims to bring awareness, support and hope to those suffering from breast cancer and all cancers.
Originally PAP sold bright pink Victory Archery arrows with a portion of the proceeds going to support breast cancer research. Now it has exploded with pink products of many types and descriptions from a wide range of manufacturers all raising not only funds for research but, also support and awareness. “The PAP provides a marketing resource for the manufacture to promote their pink products. You can go to the website and find products that are being made in pink and dealers that are selling them.” Mary adds, “The PAP also offers a place for you to tell your story and offer hope to others. There is a place for your pictures and videos. Sponsors are also recognized and we ask that you support our sponsors, without them we would not be able to continue.”
In 2011, the PAP will also broaden it’s horizons to include all outdoor activities, from gun hunting and skeet shooting to fly fishing and bird watching. “You get the picture, whatever anyone is interested in doing and they would like to raise money to prevent cancer. We must always remember this is not just about the pink products but, destroying the terrible disease cancer!”
Another change the organization will be making for 2011 will be to include an E-commerce shopping cart feature to directly sell pink products from the website. Supporters surfing the site will be able to show their support by purchasing everything from outdoor gear to bumper stickers and t-shirts. Another manufacture, Lynch Traditions and John Geer, will be including the Pink Arrow Project on the packing of their “Honor the Patriot” turkey call which will be sold in Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, providing exposure to the excellent work the PAP is doing to support those individuals and families stricken with cancer.
Mary’s enthusiasm for the great work being done by the PAP is infectious and just speaking with her you get a sense of why the PAP is expanding their efforts and supporters. The list of companies wanting to get involved continues to grow and in turn so does the great support they offer cancer research and direct support for those in need. “We will be raffling off an African hunt from Siegfried Osmers (owner of Dalerwa Ventures) and he has also given us 4 hunts to sell and we will receive a good portion of the profit.”
The Pink Arrow Project is set up so that supporting companies or individuals can direct where their contributions go. If they want it to go directly to the National Breast Cancer foundation the PAP can do exactly that. “We also have companies that want their efforts to go to a local cancer fund. Archery clubs also do shoots to raise money for cancer patients in their area. All the money that is raised by clubs go directly to their cause. We will help the company; retailer, individual or club raise money for their cancer cause or to help a cancer patient. We are also looking at starting a college fund for children of cancer patients.” explained Mary.
Those of us involved in hunting know that hunters are always ready to get behind and support a great cause so it should come as no surprise that hunters and archers are taking to the Pink Arrow Project in droves. With cancer touching each and everyone we know in someway it’s easy to take this project to heart. It’s efforts to selflessly help those in need takes on a personal feeling and helps many of us heal from a cancer challenge we or someone in our circle of family and friends may have or may be dealing with. Not only will the Pink Arrow Project continue to do great work for years to come but, something tells me Mary Hale will be there every step of the way and delivering a loving hug and support to anyone who needs it. “This memory has made me cry but they are tears of joy, my friends in archery are still there for me today. I love each and every one of them!”
By: Scott Pulvermacher