Sears and WNBA Shoot for Breast Health

Shoot for Breast Health

Lisa Leslie, William Baldwin and others talk about the importance of breast health awareness.
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NEW YORK, April 24, 2001 -- Sears and the WNBA tipped off the 2001 Sears WNBA Breast Health Awareness program with the help of actor and activist William Baldwin, Los Angeles Sparks superstar and program spokesperson Lisa Leslie, stars from NBC's "Third Watch" Michael Beach and Kim Raver, "Survivor" television series participant Gervase Peterson, R&B singer Coko, and breast cancer survivors here at ESPN Zone.

As part of this year's campaign, Baldwin, Leslie, and the rest of the participants introduced a new initiative, "Shoot for Breast Health," which features as its centerpiece a newly created pink and white WNBA signature basketball symbolizing Sears and the WNBA's mission to increase breast health awareness.

The WNBA and Sears will be raising awareness and funds for the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO). Sears has committed a minimum donation of $1 million over three years to NABCO, the leading non-profit education and information resource on breast cancer. Last year's efforts resulted in a $352,551 donation by Sears to NABCO.

The signature ball will be used several ways to raise funds for NABCO:

  • Sears will donate $1,000 for every celebrity photographed with the basketball, with a maximum cap at $60,000, to help drive awareness for the cause. The participants took the first group photo with the ball at the program's tip-off event today.
  • National and local celebrities will be asked to design their own personal breast health awareness ball to be sold through a WNBA All-Star auction on in July, with all proceeds going to NABCO.
  • A celebrity "chain ball" was started by Leslie and the celebrities on hand, who signed the ball and will pass it on to another celebrity for their signature. That celebrity will sign the ball and pass it on to another, and the cycle will continue until the WNBA All-Star Game in July. The celebrity chain ball also will be sold through the WNBA All-Star auction to benefit NABCO.

WNBA President Val Ackerman

"Across the U.S., the lives of millions of women and their families have been impacted by breast cancer," said Val Ackerman, WNBA President. "With the continued support of Sears, the WNBA will use the new pink and white signature ball to educate the public about the importance of early detection and to raise funds to help beat a disease that already has taken too great a toll."

"Sears, the WNBA and NABCO will continue with a powerful alliance to increase awareness for breast health," said John Lebbad, Sears director of Event Marketing and Sales Promotion. "In addition to the overall $1 million commitment to NABCO, Sears will activate this program with an integrated marketing plan and national and local outreach efforts to educate millions about this important cause that impacts so many of us."

Leslie was drawn to the breast health cause when her mother, Christine Leslie-Espinoza, found two lumps in her breast. They were benign and subsequently removed. Baldwin also has a close tie to the cause as his mother, Carol Baldwin, is a breast cancer survivor.

John Lebbad, Sears Director of Event Marketing and Sales Promotion

Breast health awareness has been a core initiative of the WNBA since its inaugural season in 1997. The Sears WNBA Breast Health Awareness program is designed to increase public awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and to raise funds to inform, educate and screen women all over the country.

Additionally, Sears and the WNBA will support the initiative through integrated efforts on national and local levels in the 16 WNBA team markets with the following activities:

  1. Sears WNBA Breast Health Awareness Nights
    • Each WNBA team will host a Sears WNBA Breast Health Awareness night during the WNBA regular season that will directly reach thousands of fans with the breast health message - communicating the importance of early detection through regular screenings and self-exams.
    • Sears will donate $.50 to NABCO for every fan in attendance on a designated Breast Health Awareness night.
    • Printed materials offering breast health information and early detection strategies will be distributed at those games and available at Sears stores nationwide.
    • Dedicated tables located on each arena's concourse and staffed by the team's local health care provider will provide additional information about breast health and local breast cancer resources.
    • On these special nights, WNBA players will wear pink breast health awareness T-shirts to show their support for the initiative.
    • Before the Sears Breast Health Awareness game, teams will conduct a ball exchange with the players and breast cancer survivors.
  2. Public Service Announcement
    • The WNBA has produced a public service announcement (PSA) featuring Leslie, which will air during nationally televised games and in each WNBA arena. The PSA will help promote NABCO and the early detection message.
  3. Breast Health Heroes Program
    • Sears will work with NABCO and the local WNBA teams to select and recognize a local "Breast Health Hero" in each WNBA market.
    • Local heroes will be selected based on their involvement with breast cancer organizations and overall support of the breast health awareness cause.
    • In each market, a Sears representative will introduce the local hero on-court during the team's Sears WNBA Breast Health Awareness game and will make a $5,000 donation to NABCO in the local hero's name.
    • Each WNBA team will support the local heroes program with varying local elements.

NABCO Executive Director Amy Langer

"Last year's initiative was very successful, thanks to the combined efforts of the WNBA and Sears," said Amy Langer, NABCO's Executive Director and a 16-year breast cancer survivor. "With the infusion of celebrity participation accompanied by the continued commitment from Sears and the WNBA, we are confident we will reach even more women with our positive breast health message."

Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a leading U.S. retailer of apparel, home and automotive products and services, with annual revenues of more than $41 billion. The company serves families throughout the country through 860 department stores, 2,100 specialized retail locations, and a variety of online offerings accessible through the company's Web site,

The WNBA, the world's pre-eminent women's sports league, will tip-off its fifth season on May 28 Memorial Day. According to a January ESPN Sports Poll, fan interest in the WNBA now ranks 4th overall among professional sports leagues in the U.S. In addition to being the longest running women's professional basketball league in the U.S., the WNBA was also the most successful league launch in sports history. This year's games will be televised to national audiences on NBC, ESPN and ESPN2. During the 2000 season, a record 2.5 million fans attended games, and the WNBA's combined local, national and international television coverage reached nearly 60 million viewers in 23 different languages and 158 countries.

The National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) is the leading non-profit information and education resource on breast cancer and a recognized force in patient advocacy. NABCO provides information, assistance and referral to anyone with questions about breast cancer, and acts as a voice for the interests and concerns of breast cancer survivors and women at risk. More information on NABCO can be found on their Web site or by calling 888-80-NABCO.