Caitlin Productions, Buttons Wanted For Breast Cancer Ribbon of Life Project (dateline August 24, 2000) | Breast Health News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Buttons Wanted For Breast Cancer Ribbon of Life Project (dateline August 24, 2000)

Caitlin Productions, a non-profit organization that produces documentary films on a variety of subjects including women with breast cancer , is collecting buttons for a 10-foot high sculpture that will be called Ribbon of Life.   The base of the sculpture will be shaped as a ribbon, modeled after the pink ribbons that have come to symbolize many women’s struggles with breast cancer.  Between 60,000 and 65,000 buttons will cover the sculpture.  At the end of 2000, the organization hopes to auction off the Ribbon of Life project and donate 100% of the proceeds to charity.

“A few years back, a woman thought it might be fun to buy a child’s chair and ask people to give her buttons to cover it with,” said Ken Vrana, President of Caitlin Productions.  “When it was completed, the chair was auctioned off for $25,000.  I was stunned [and] thought the project could have been taken far further.  I decided to create the Ribbon of Life and ask people to send buttons to both honor those who are survivors and remember those we’ve lost to breast cancer.

“As you might expect, at first the buttons came in very slowly,” said Vrana.  “[However, now] we’ve received buttons from celebrities such as Sarah McLaughlin and Duke University’s Basketball Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and are expecting buttons from The Back Street Boys, Shania Twain, Paul McCartney, and Michael Jordan.”  Buttons have also been sent in from several countries outside the United States, including Canada, Ireland, England, and New Zealand.

The Caitlin Foundation, which has grown out of Caitlin Productions, is encouraging everyone to send in buttons to contribute to the Ribbon of Life project.  The Foundation is also hoping that schools, churches, local Rotary clubs, state Girl Scout organizations, and military bases will collect buttons from their members and send them in collectively.

“My dream is to receive so many buttons that we have to increase the size of the Ribbon from 10 feet tall to twice that!” said Vrana.   In addition to heading the Ribbon of Life project, Vrana is finishing up a 90-minute documentary that follows a year in the life of three women in North Carolina with breast cancer.

“As you might imagine, after a year of filming [these three ladies] day in and day out, they have become family to me.  Their incredible spirit and courage have comforted me when I was struggling with the film,” said Vrana.  The documentary is scheduled to be completed around the end of 2000, the same time as the Ribbon of Life project.

In addition to the Ribbon of Life, the Caitlin Foundation plans to create a “coffee table book” of 75 selected letters that they have received from women who have sent in buttons.  “Many of the buttons we’ve received are antiques and the people who send them often also send beautifully poignant letters with their buttons, explaining the significance of their buttons,” said Vrana. 

“One woman’s mother sent a broken button from her 64-year-old daughter’s baby dress,” recalled Vrana.  “It was particularly significant, not only because her daughter [now has Stage 4 breast cancer], but because her daughter was wearing her dress when she was terribly burned in a childhood fire in their home.  She had kept the dress all this time and wanted us to have the buttons.”

The Caitlin Foundation hopes that some of the people who hear about the Ribbon of Life project will start an email chain letter that will circle the globe and help to collect thousands of buttons.  Vrana also encourages anyone who might have a family member or friend in the field of book publishing to contact the Caitlin Foundation if they are interested in helping with the project.

Buttons of all sorts, and an accompanying personal note (optional), may be sent to:

Ribbon of Life
Caitlin Foundation
Caitlin Productions, Inc.
102 Lantana Circle
Cary, NC  27511 

Those who send buttons should package them carefully, as they may break during shipping.  As a bonus, the 10 people who collect and send in the most buttons will get their names on the credits of the Caitlin Productions’ breast cancer documentary, and anyone who individually collects more than 5,000 buttons will receive a special award.

The Caitlin Foundation is also selling breast cancer posters that have been designed to help publicize the Foundation’s efforts to fight breast cancer.  All proceeds from the sales of the posters will be donated to breast cancer charities. Click here to learn more about these posters.    

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