When you think of October a few things come to mind ― Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes. More importantly, October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
There are more than three million breast cancer survivors in the United States as well as those battling metastatic breast cancer, many of whom call themselves “forever fighters” because there is currently no cure. Chances are you know at least one. And although breast cancer is largely recognized as a critical health issue for women, men are also diagnosed with the disease.
This year, Gittings Portraiture has partnered with Susan G. Komen Dallas County to shine a spotlight on the courageous women fighting it in a beautiful and thoughtful way. Gittings has installed a collection of remarkable portraits of breast cancer survivors and forever fighters at the Galleria Dallas shopping center. (PaperCity is the media sponsor of the exhibit.)
Rick Bettinger is the president and owner of Gittings Portraiture in Dallas and Fort Worth. A master photographer in his own right, Bettinger has photographed many notable North Texas families, along with celebrities such as former president George W. Bush, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, and business tycoon Ross Perot Sr. Now, Bettinger and Gittings photographer Ryan Johnson are turning their lens on breast cancer survivors and fighters.
“I photographed Nancy Brinker in 1995, and have been a supporter of the organization ever since,” Bettinger says. “The whole concept behind our partnership began during all the coronavirus shutdowns. We knew that a lot of our nonprofit partners were struggling ― since all their normal fundraising events and galas had been canceled. We were looking for a positive way to help.”
During the month of October when anyone donates $500 to Komen Dallas County, they will receive an all-inclusive portrait package from Gittings that includes a portrait session and 11×14 Canvas portrait, valued at $1450. It’s a great way to get your family portrait done before the holidays while supporting the vital mission of Komen Dallas County.
Bettinger first contacted Komen Dallas County with the idea.
“The best thing we can do is to get people excited about donating,” he says. “Then I needed a public venue to display the portraits. Chuck Steelman (with Trademark Property) and I go way back, so I gave him a call, Chuck and his team were already planning some great things for October and our exhibit was a perfect fit. With the partnership between the Dallas Galleria and Gittings, we are able to maximize the impact for Susan G Komen.”
For breast cancer fighters, October is synonymous with the color pink. That part of breast cancer awareness is pretty well ingrained in us by now. But wearing pink doesn’t cure cancer.
“We are far more than pink,” says Robin Hansen, Development Manager at Susan G. Komen Dallas County. “We have to be about fundraising, donating, and volunteering to fulfill our mission of funding the research to find the cures and continue providing life-saving breast cancer resources to those in need.
“Gittings Portraiture is going above and beyond. They are digging deep in their support this year, by offering a huge amount of their time and talent. We are so thankful for their generous donation.”
Gittings would have loved to kick off this unique fundraising campaign with a swanky cocktail party. COVID-19 put the kabash on that. Instead, they invite everyone to view the portrait exhibit at Galleria Dallas on their own and take advantage of this opportunity to donate ― while receiving a luxe portrait package from one of North Texas’ top portrait studios. To donate, visit Komen-Dallas.org.
Each portrait tells a story. Some of the women are featured in color ― those are the faces of supporters, donors, and board members. The rest of the portraits in the exhibit are in black and white with pops of pink ― those are the breast cancer survivors or women who are living with metastatic breast cancer.
Most of all, Bettinger and Johnson wanted the portraits on display to be impactful.
“We chose black and white portraits for the breast cancer survivors and fighters to achieve that, and then we added back that splash of pink,” he says. “Then we wanted to display colorful lifestyle portraits of the donors, supporters, and board members to contrast.”
Galleria Dallas is also hosting a series of Talent Talks. Jan Strimple hosted the first virtual talk about her story last week. Cathy Williamson will host one this Friday, October 16 at noon, and Paula Schneider will host another on October 20 at 6 pm. Please visit www.galleriadallas.com/programs/events for more details.
“When a well-known company like Gittings comes alongside us, the media coverage that comes along with that is immeasurable,” Hansen says. “We don’t have a marketing budget, and their partnership brings with it so much exposure to the cause.”
“I wanted the joy, the spirit and the soul to come through in the people we photographed,” Bettinger says.
Below each portrait on view at Galleria Dallas is a short bio, so viewers can learn more about the woman’s breast cancer story. It’s a more personalized approach than just asking for donations to fight a nameless, faceless disease. The portraits, which will be on display through October 30, bring the real imperative of Komen Dallas County’s mission home.
“We have to find cures ― for each of those ladies on that wall,” Hansen says.
To donate to the cause and get your own exclusive portrait package, visit Komen-Dallas.org.
This article was first published by Paper City Dallas.