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Delta goes pink to help breast cancer research

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Delta Air Lines has traded it's traditional red and blue colors for pink this month as the airline continues it's work to raise awareness of breast cancer research.

The carrier recently unveiled a revamped "Pink Plane," a Boeing 757 painted various shades of pink and white, and features a pink ribbon on the tail section representing breast cancer awareness.

The airline also is selling pink lemonade to passengers for $2. Flight attendants and airport customer-service agents are wearing pink ties, scarves, pocket squares and T-shirts during October to make passengers more aware of the cause. All proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF.)

Employees are allowed to wear jeans to work, if they make a weekly $5 donation to the BCRF.

Delta has raised more than $450,000 to fight breast cancer since the company began its partnership with the BCRF in 2005. Earlier this year, the Delta Foundation donated $250,000 to the BCRF to fund the research being performed by two of the foundation's doctors.

The amount of money raised by Delta for Breast Cancer research will go up significantly due to high internal sales of pink products to Delta employees. The employees have purchased more than $200,000 worth of pink products since shortly before the beginning of October. After money is taken out to pay for the production of the pink products, the BCRF can expect to receive more than $100,000, according to a Delta spokesperson.

"This disease touches everyone in some way, whether it's a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a cousin or a grandmother," said Katie Connell, a senior manager for Delta's corporate communications department. "Our employees felt very passionate about this cause and Delta's ability to raise funds to help find a cure."

Delta made the BCRF it's SkyWish Charity of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2006. The SkyWish program allows passengers to donate their sky miles to charities.

"Sky miles are donated to fly researchers to retreats in October," said Robbie Finke, the BCRF's director of marketing.

The BCRF is Delta's current partner for the airlines' Force for Global Good program, which was launched in 2006 to use Delta's resources to improve local communities, health and environmental causes. Previous partners with the program were Habitat for Humanity International, and The Conservation Fund.

Delta has had one of its planes painted with a pink-and-white tail design since 2005, when the first design was unveiled by Delta's former low-fare subsidiary, Song Air Lines.

The "Pink Plane" flies passengers to destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. The plane was redesigned the following year to match Delta's new transcontinental plane design, and received another makeover earlier this year. The current design mimics Delta's new tail design, which was unveiled shortly after the company came out of bankruptcy.

Delta officials hope the plane will encourage passengers to donate money to help advance breast cancer research.

"It's critical to keep raising awareness of breast cancer," Finke said. "While October is the month where a lot of attention is paid to the disease, women get breast cancer 365 days a year. To turn off the heat on October 31, would be a huge mistake."