A common axiom for leadership is that one should lead from the front. When it comes to charity, Local 773 President Dennis Hower has taken this to heart in a big way.
“I’ve always encouraged my membership to get involved with their community and take up good causes in their free time,” Hower said. “So when they came to me and asked me to get involved with Real Men Wear Pink, I had to go all in.”
Local 773 represents clerical workers at the Bethlehem Area School District in Bethlehem, Pa. A few years ago, a group of secretaries at the school district formed a support group after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. Together the Local 773 members fought and beat the disease. They helped with fundraising for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in the years following their recovery, and most recently they decided to nominate their local union president for the ACS’ Real Men Wear Pink initiative, a campaign where individual men embark on a fundraising drive for ACS throughout the month of October.
Hower said that he was happy and honored to be nominated by his members, and that the fight against cancer has been especially close to his heart ever since he lost his father to cholangiocarcinoma (also known as bile duct cancer).
“The materials we got from the American Cancer Society really helped us deal with the grief of losing someone so close to us,” Hower said. “I don’t think anyone should have to go through what my family and many others have gone through. We need to raise funds and raise awareness to finally rid this world of cancer.”
The level of creativity that Hower and Local 773 have demonstrated in coming up with ways to raise money for Real Men Wear Pink is truly remarkable. Initially, Hower set a goal of $10,000, with the promise that if the goal was reached, he would dye his beard pink (Hower has been growing his beard for years).
The donations poured in from Local 773’s staff, membership and Teamsters throughout the country. Before long, Dennis Hower had a pink beard. Even after Hower hit his goal, he and his members have continued to raise money for ACS . One of the most successful ways the campaign has fundraised is through events – There has been a stand-up comedy show, a happy hour where men participating in the initiative took turns tending bar, and an all you can eat taco night called “Tacos for Tatas.” One of the more memorable events was a “Bling Your Bra” charity auction. At that event, participants decorated bras that were then auctioned off after being worn by men who volunteered to serve as models.
Hower’s latest itineration is one that demonstrates a level of dedication that is truly unique. While attending the Teamsters Women’s Conference in Orlando, Fla. he spoke to a member who had a pink ribbon tattoo to commemorate a loved one who had passed away from breast cancer. This gave him an idea.
“If I reach $40,000, I’m going to get a pink ribbon tattoo with the initials of the top five donors on it,” Hower said.
With more than 140 individuals and groups donating, Dennis Hower is more than 75 percent of the way to his goal of $40,000. Click here to donate and possibly get your initials tattooed on Dennis Hower.