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Panera's pink-ribbon bagels to raise funds for breast cancer awareness

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

Panera Bread Co. is teaming up with local organizations to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

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During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the company will sell its signature Pink Ribbon Bagel, a twist on the Cherry Vanilla Bagel, a mix of cherry chips, dried cherries, honey, vanilla and brown sugar. A portion of the proceeds of the Pink Ribbon bagel will be donated to local nonprofits across the country. 

Erin Barnhart, community relations manager for a Panera Bread franchise based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said each participating market has its own breast cancer partners.

"The partner really does make a difference," she said. "We appreciate our local partners, as their support can make all the difference in achieving our goals of building awareness and raising funds for treatment and research."

Panera has more than 1,600 locations in 41 states and the District of Columbia. 

Select markets offer a 100 percent donation day, during which the entirety of that day's sales of Pink Ribbon Bagels is donated to breast cancer focused organizations, according to Panera's website.

In Dayton, Ohio, proceeds will be donated to local nonprofit Pink Ribbon Girls and the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation.

"We make this campaign a priority every year for a reason," said Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Covelli Enterprises, the Ohio-based franchisee of Dayton-area Panera Bread restaurants. "The funds raised by the Pink Ribbon Bagel are helping to save the lives of local women with breast cancer. There's no better feeling than knowing you can help make difference."

Pink Ribbon Girls provide free direct services to patients and their families undergoing breast and other women's reproductive cancer treatment through their programs.

Mikki Clancy, chief operating officer of Miami Valley Hospital, survived breast cancer and said she benefited from the services of Pink Ribbon Girls and the hospital.

"Pink Ribbon Girls and Miami Valley Hospital were a godsend in my treatment and recovery," she said. "Supporting these community assets serves hundreds of local patients in their fight against cancer."

Twelve participating West Virginia area Panera locations will donate to Susan G. Komen West Virginia.

"We are so excited to partner with Panera Bread for the sixth year to raise funds and awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness month," said Donna DeHart, executive director West Virginia Susan G. Komen. "The Pink Ribbon Bagels are always a big hit with our survivors, volunteers, grantees and supporters. Money raised from the October campaign will be used to provide uninsured and under-insured West Virginians with life-saving screenings and awareness."

According to the Panera website, the franchise has raised tens of thousands of dollars for breast cancer partners through Pink Ribbon Bagel campaigns in the past 10 years.

"It's not a hard sell," Barnhart said. "People want to be involved in whatever way they can. That's what's so great about the Pink Ribbon Bagel. People might say, 'I can't write a check, but I can buy a bagel.'"

Read more at PaneraBread.com.

Photos: 2015 Met Gala red carpet

Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth is 2 years old. She has been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia since age 1.

Her story:

Elizabeth's parents, both professionals in the medical field, are no strangers to a medical crises. But they never expected one to hit so close to home.

Last summer, their little blonde daughter, not even 2 years old, ran a fever off and on for weeks. They took her to the pediatrician, but it always seemed to be just a virus. Then, Elizabeth started bruising heavily. When she developed petechiae that spread down her legs, her mother realized what it could mean. It could mean leukemia.

Another visit to the pediatrician and a complete blood count confirmed her family's fears: Elizabeth suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer. Her mother's thoughts raced. “I thought, is this the last time I’m going to see her? Is she going to die?”

Elizabeth's doctor immediately referred her to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude has increased the survival rates for Elizabeth's type of leukemia from 4 percent before opening in 1962 to 94 percent today — the world’s best.

By the time Elizabeth arrived at St. Jude just eight hours later, her white count had already doubled. “She probably would have been dead in 72 hours,” says her mother.

St. Jude doctors quickly brought the cancer under control with chemotherapy. Now about a year into treatment, Elizabeth has responded well. Her cancer is in remission, but she still has to undergo another year-and-a-half of chemotherapy to be sure the cancer doesn’t return.

Being so familiar with hospital environments from their work in medicine, Elizabeth’s parents have been amazed by the upbeat and child-friendly atmosphere at St. Jude. “People here at St. Jude love their jobs, and they’re great with the kids,” says Elizabeth’s mom. “And that makes it so much easier to be here.”

Elizabeth’s mom is grateful for her daughter’s progress — and grateful her family will never see a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. Thanks to people who donate to St. Jude, she says, “Children who were never going to have a chance in life now have a chance. Your money is being put to good use.”

Elizabeth is a tough and independent little girl with a bright future ahead.

 

To help give hope to children such as Elizabeth who are fighting life-threatening illnesses, please become a Partner In Hope monthly donor.

Photos from Macy's 'Glamorama' fundraiser

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