A New Hue for Michael Alter

Photo courtesy of Susan Mattes

Chicago Sky owner Michael Alter received a new addition to his wardrobe last Thursday night: a pink tie.

Alter’s new tie came courtesy of the Chicago Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, after Alter earned a spot in the foundation’s inaugural class of Pink Tie Guys – a group of 13 community leaders looking to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. The Pink Tie Guys were unveiled and given their ties at a gala held on Oct. 13.

“We are thrilled to extend this honor to these outstanding leaders in the Chicagoland community working to fulfill our mission of a world without breast cancer,” said Ruth Todd, Board President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Chicago in a release. “While traditionally a woman’s disease, the reality is, men can get breast cancer and men are deeply impacted by the effects this disease has on their mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and other loved ones.”

Alter said he is fortunate that no member of his immediate family has been afflicted with breast cancer, but he didn’t need that personal impact to want to lend a hand – or in this case a neck – to help the cause.

“I’ve had friends that have been affected by it; I think everyone has been touched by this to some extent,” he said. “You don’t have to go through something like that to want to help and make it an issue.”

Alter has been a part of the league’s efforts to promote breast health awareness in games and throughout the Chicago area ever since the Sky joined the league in 2006. Now, at the start of a seven-month offseason, he has the chance to do even more.

“I look forward to being an ambassador and a champion for the cause,” he said, following a series of TV and newspaper interviews after the gala.

Now that the festivities have come to an end, the real work must begin. How can this group of men help raise awareness and broaden the scope of people that are focused on this issue?

Throughout the month of October we have seen NFL players and coaches taking the field wearing pink shirts, hats, shoes, gloves and towels as part of the league’s efforts during Breast Health Awareness month.

During the WNBA season, the players dress in all-pink uniforms, with many players wearing pink shoes, headbands and wristbands to show their support. There are pink and white basketballs that are autographed and auctioned to raise funds.

Now, there will be prominent businessmen around the country wearing pink ties as the Komen for the Cure foundation launches similar Pink Tie Guys events throughout the month.

“A lot of times people – and this happens for the W too – they pigeonhole you into ‘this group of people’ or ‘that group of people,’ Alter said. “But this is something we should all be concerned about.

“We’re here to make sure people are aware of it, that they’re getting tested and spreading the word. We’ll do all we can do to help.”

For starters, Alter will have to get used to his new piece of neckwear.

“I didn’t have a pink tie … I do now,” Alter said with a laugh. “We’ll get it into the wardrobe. We’ll make it work.”