Orion crews at the Exchange, a $55-million, mixed-use development at 155 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, are using the pink elevator. Courtesy Orion Construction
With an influx of new office and residential projects in the pipeline, downtown Grand Rapids’ skyline has its fair share of cranes, but another common site among the numerous construction projects is the pink elevators intended to raise awareness for breast cancer research.
Orion Construction is stepping into action by kicking off two “dueling” fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation between two of its project teams in West Michigan. The two fundraising events are done in tandem with Indianapolis-based Metro Elevator, a supplier of construction elevators, and specifically, the pink elevators seen at both construction sites.
The first of the two events began Sept. 12 at the Exchange, a $55-million, mixed-use development at 155 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, and featured an appearance by Michigan’s first lady, Sue Snyder, a two-time breast cancer survivor and supporter of Susan G. Komen.
The second event took place the day after at the Warner Tower construction site on 150 Ottawa Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids. The $65-million office building will be the new home of Chemical Bank and Warner, Norcross + Judd.
“We’ve had family and employees affected in one way or another by breast cancer, and we hope this event honors those who have passed, struggled and thrived through this process,” Orion President Roger Rehkopf said. “Our company and our subcontractors understand the serious nature of this research and the impact that events like this have on this noble cause.”
Both fundraisers are hosted by Metro Elevator, whose noticeable pink construction elevators signify the breast cancer awareness effort. The company is a supplier not only for Orion but also for a number of other firms, including Pioneer Construction and Triangle Associates.
“We’ve done a lot of projects with Orion,” said Roger Brummett, executive vice president of Metro Elevator. “We have a national corporate sponsorship with Susan G. Komen, and our entire fleet of 70 elevators is pink.”
Metro’s pink elevators also can be seen at 601 Bond Apartments and the Embassy Suites at 710 Monroe Ave. NW. Pioneer Construction is building both projects, according to previous Business Journal reports.
Brummett added 100 percent of funds raised from these events go to Komen — 25 cents of every dollar raised will go to the organization’s research fund, and 75 cents will stay to benefit the local Komen affiliate in the city where each event takes place.
Since partnering with Komen about four years ago, Metro’s Ride the Pink Elevator campaign has raised more than $200,000 nationally, and about $77,000 in the state of Michigan.
“Our goal is to help people find their breast cancer as early as possible to get the best chance of survival,” said Jen Henkel, director of donor relations for Susan G. Komen of Michigan. “Seventy-five percent of the money we raise stays in Michigan, and we fund local programs that offer diagnostics, screening, education and survivor support.”
Henkel said Komen also covers gaps in patients’ coverage.
“Say you’re 38 and you find a lump but your insurance won’t cover it until you’re 40, that’s where we step in,” she said. “Or you have a $1,500 deductible on your insurance you can’t afford.”
Henkel said there is no specific dollar amount Komen is aiming for with this round of fund-raising, and the organization’s only goal is to raise as much awareness as possible.
“We call it third party, where somebody else is hosting a fundraiser on our behalf,” Henkel said. They (Metro Elevator) enlist the construction companies to get awareness. They created the pink elevator. That’s their part.”
At both events, Metro Elevator hosted a ribbon cutting to “christen” the pink elevators and invited the public and all parties on the project — including customers, general and subcontractors, vendors and suppliers — to learn about and donate to Susan G. Komen.
Each project’s fundraising campaign will last for 30 days. The winning project team will be awarded various prizes, such as an on-site barbeque lunch.