women’s health l BY ANITA NEAL HARRISON
Flushing Out Donors
An unorthodox campaign raises funds for breast cancer research.
rica Milbach felt a little uneasy every time she decorated a stranger’s lawn with her pink toilet. And when strangers caught her at it and in bewilderment asked what she thought she was doing, she flushed — er, colored — with embarrassment. “It wasn’t always the most comfortable conversation to have: ‘Excuse me what are you doing?’ ‘Oh, you know, I’m just dropping a toilet off in your yard,’ ” Milbach says, “but they were always really understanding once I explained the situation.” The “situation” was Milbach raising funds for Susan G. Komen Mid-Missouri. Throughout the month of September, she placed the pink toilet on lawns around Columbia, and with it, she left a Flush Breast Cancer Away sign that explained she would remove the toilet for a donation of $20. Homeowners could choose to give $25 instead and direct Milbach to her next prospective donor; a $50 donation would guarantee the toilet would not make a second appearance on the donor’s lawn. Milbach found the idea online and thought it would be a fun way to encourage people to give. “The people who were involved really liked the idea of gifting someone something that’s not the most beautiful lawn ornament,” says Milbach, who is a nurse anesthetist at The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. The fundraiser kept Milbach and her father, who helped with the heavy lifting, busy the entire month. They moved the toilet at least once almost every day; one
INSIDE COLUMBIA NOVEMBER 2014
day, they moved it four times. By the end of September, the pink toilet had made a stop in 29 Columbia yards, and Milbach had raised $1,246, making her the top fundraiser for the 2014 Komen Mid-Missouri Race for the Cure campaign. Eva Seibert, one of Milbach’s co-workers, calls it “a great ‘power of one’ story.” “No fanfare, just one person with a good idea and some follow-through,” Seibert says. Milbach supports Komen even though she does not have a personal story with breast cancer. She is on the Susan G.
Komen Mid-Missouri affiliate board and served as the race chair emeritus for the Komen Mid-Missouri Race for the Cure, which took place Oct. 4. Earning the spot of top fundraiser doesn’t really matter to her, she says. What does matter is knowing the money will go toward the fight against breast cancer. “We give out a lot of grants to the local community, and without fundraising, we can’t do that,” she says. “I hope I’ll be doing this as an annual fundraiser now and continue the tradition of the pink toilet in town.”