MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Right now, 10 brave people are wearing bright pink wigs almost everywhere.
You’re doing it to raise money for a good cause – Komen Wisconsin.
It’s part of Komen’s annual BigWig campaign, and it’s more important than ever this year as some of Komen’s annual fundraising drives are canceled.
Daven Claerbout from Dutchland Plastics in Oostburg is one of this year’s BigWigs.
“What does it do for your planning?” He asks a group of employees during a meeting.
It’s a serious meeting, but Claerbout’s pink wig, shirt, and face mask make it hard not to smile.
“Lots of excitement, lots of giggles, lots of giggles,” said CEO Raka Rao of Claerbout’s ensemble.
He proudly wears his wig for several weeks. It’s a look he chose himself.
“I don’t know, is that as close to a rock star as possible? I don’t know, ”he said with a smile. He was inspired by Rod Stewart.
Claerbout is certainly a rock star when it comes to raising funds. He is a trained auctioneer who has been in business his entire life. He usually donates his time and skill as an auctioneer at Komens More Than Pink Gala.
“Offer a one, buy a one, one now, two, now three, how about four,” he demonstrated, falling into a cadence.
But since the gala was canceled this year due to Covid, he is helping in other ways.
“When we’re on stage, you turn around and look and think, boy, these people look stupid,” he said with a laugh, describing BigWigs from years past. “A year later, I’ll do the same.”
Komens 10 BigWigs bring money and awareness to the organization. And Claerbout is getting big. He started the campaign by asking Executive Director Nikki Panico what BigWig had ever raised the most about.
“She said I don’t know, I think about $ 26,000,” Claerbout recalled. “So I just smiled and thought, OK. Put mine down for $ 27,000. “
Fortunately, he gets a lot of support in his endeavors at work. Rao said he was happy that Dutchland can be a part of it.
“We are very proud to be working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is a powerful driver for driving awareness,” said Rao.
Claerbout’s wife and mother are his inspiration. Both women are breast cancer survivors.
BigWig colleague Georgette Retzer has a similar motivation.
“Well, we’ve been friends for 20 years,” said Retzer, hugging his best friend, Linnea Harrington.
“I was young, healthy, and had no family history,” said Harrington of her diagnosis of breast cancer.
Eight years ago, when she was only 34, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Retzer was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer last July.
“For me it’s just scary how two best friends are in the same breast and we have completely different trips,” said Retzer.
Nikomen Panico, executive director of Komen, said the pandemic has deterred some people from getting their cancer screenings. She said the $ 75,000 BigWigs plans to raise this year is so important in helping people get the screenings and care they need.
“We know the pandemic has played a role in breast cancer, so this fundraiser is essential for women here in Milwaukee to be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer,” said Panico.
Both Claerbout and Retzer said they have received tremendous support from friends, family, and their communities.
“It was my first time on a Zoom call with my work team so it was my first time wearing it and they were like, hey,” she said with a big laugh.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Claerbout. “It was humble. It’s really neat. “
The money raised will be used to help patients and fund research here in the Milwaukee area.
Claerbout said he plans to dye his real hair pink when he hits his $ 27,000 goal.
“You will see real pink on my head, but not a wig. I’m actually going to dye my hair pink, which I never thought possible, ”he said.
The BigWig campaign runs until Monday March 15th.
Click to check progress or make a donation Here.
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