If you walked into Burdette Dental Laboratory last fall, you might have thought the laboratory's signature color was pink. After all, the entire staff in the Birmingham, AL facility was decked out in bright pink t-shirts. And, on one particular day, there was a huge pink fire truck in the parking lot--yes, a pink one.
The real reason for the rosy hue: Burdette's Cases for a Cause campaign, which raised $5,000 for breast cancer research. During October and November, the laboratory donated a portion of its profits to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA).
With the dual objective of raising funds as well as awareness, the campaign was the brainchild of President Chris Waldrop, whose wife Margaret is a breast cancer survivor. (Margaret is also the daughter of Laboratory Owner Harold Burdette, Jr.) "Breast cancer touches one in eight women. There is not an individual within our company that has not been affected by breast cancer," says Waldrop. "We wanted to come up with a campaign to bring about awareness of the disease while also making a substantial donation to a worthy organization."
But how does a laboratory--with virtually no contact with the public--spread awareness? Through its dentist-clients, of course. "They see patients every day and we wanted to help them initiate the dialogue and spread the message about the importance of early detection," says Waldrop, who decided to pilot the program by asking a group of dentists attending their CE programs to participate. Twenty-five eagerly agreed, and the laboratory worked with HallMarketing to design counter signs for the dental offices to explain the Cases for a Cause program; they were also given educational brochures, "Got Pink?" pins for the staff to wear, and pink wrist bands to pass out to patients.
Burdette employees also jumped on board, donning their pink t-shirts every Friday as a way to pull together for the cause and spread awareness as they traveled to and from work and out on breaks. They also received a first-hand look at how the funds would be used when Kate Darden, a BCRFA boardmember, addressed the team during a special employee luncheon.
The biggest thrill during the campaign was likely the visit from that pink fire truck, which belongs to the national non-profit organization Guardians of the Ribbon, a group of firefighters showing their support for women battling all types of cancer. Close to 40 pink fire trucks tour the U.S., covered with signatures and messages of inspiration. When the organization heard about Burdette's efforts, it was added as a stop on its Birmingham "Pink Heals Tour," pulling in on a sunny October day with its sirens wailing and honoring a surprised Margaret with a bouquet of flowers. "Everyone here was excited and those kinds of events that bring the team together to contribute to a bigger cause are always very meaningful," says Waldrop, who plans to repeat the program in coming years and reach out to the entire client base.
While the campaign's intent was squarely focused on breast cancer research and awareness, there are also derivative benefits from Burdette's efforts and generosity. In addition to receiving local press on the campaign, the laboratory also helped its clients stand out in the minds of their patients. "Breast cancer is not often discussed in dental offices, so if we can help our customers differentiate themselves while also raising awareness, it's a win-win," says Waldrop. "Also, when explaining the campaign, it allows the dentist to have a discussion with patients about what a dental laboratory does and what kinds of restorative options it offers."