Student makes difference in fight against cancer

Lauren Lorance

As a pink lanyard swings around his neck, one can tell that breast cancer awareness is something close to Ian Martin’s heart.

That’s why everything has to be perfect. Checking the sound system in preparation for his first fundraiser of the season, the Cerritos, Calif. senior seems excited for his calendar of events, invested in mapping it out to the very last detail.

For the past two years, Martin said he’s done simple things like bake sales and bra drives for the fight against breast cancer.

Now, he plans on making an even greater impact.

“Since this is my last, final year, getting this last major out of the way, I wanted to do everything I can to make an effort — make my presence felt in regards to breast cancer awareness,” Martin said.

Martin is the main organizer of nine area events scheduled throughout the month of October, nationally known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“I see it as a very, very viable means of seeking aid for people who have fought and survived this condition,” Martin said, “and mainly, it just helps raise awareness, but also gives insight to others to seek precautions.”

Under the moniker “Real Men in Pink,” Martin has gained the help of many organizations on campus. These partnerships have helped Martin implement his fundraising events, including the third annual I Love Boobies Bash, a Skate for a Cure skate night and a charity drag pageant.

“I wanted to make sure that I could not just hit the college community, also the local community and the youth as well,” Martin said.

Although planning took some time, from getting the events approved, to setting up venues and advertising, Martin said he enjoys event coordinating, especially for a good cause.

“I’m a kid in a candy store when it comes to making events and planning things in my mind and just seeking the opportunities to do these things,” Martin said. “I get a picture in my head and I just go with it.”

Fundraising has become a little easier this year. As an employee at Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 movie theater, Martin is eligible for the Regal Entertainment Group’s Community Showmanship Award. He has been approved for a $1,000 grant for his service, which, along with proceeds from his events, will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Martin said he’s grateful for all the support he has gained along the way.

“It’s beyond efforts, beyond beliefs,” Martin said. “Everybody has reached out and given me their efforts and given me the opportunity to help out with this. I just want to do it and say that I did it and something was made out of it; results were made out of it.”

Results are already apparent, and Martin is on his way to raising his goal of $2,000. His Date for a Cure event, an auction in which members from Greek life, the Campus Activities Board and WKU athletics were auctioned to the highest bidder for a lunch or dinner date on campus, raised more than $170 on Oct. 1.

Hopkinsville junior Denzel Mayfield said Martin has been a mentor to him since his freshman year, which encouraged him to participate in Martin’s date auction. Mayfield was amazed to discover that Martin organized the events himself, but not surprised.

“He has extremely good intentions to give back,” Mayfield said. “It’s highly smiled upon.”

As Martin enters his third year of planning and organizing events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, he said he’s often asked why he became involved.

“A lady back in my city, she’d always look after me and just make sure I stayed out of trouble Martin said.” She actually found out (that she had breast cancer) a few years before we moved to Tennessee,” “She actually survived it. Sadly, she died two years after.”

Because he was only 7 years old when he found out family friend Doris Butler had cancer, Martin said he didn’t fully understand what cancer really meant.

“I remember joking about it, actually, when she started chemo,” Martin said. “She cut her hair and shaved it off. I never knew, and I always joked on it. I never knew to the fullest extent. It kind of jacked me up to think about it and to see that. I mean, it’s an appearance. That’s one thing you get taken away. Think about it, you have hair and you get that call, you get the diagnostic and it’s gone.”

Although Butler rarely ever talked about her condition, Martin said seeing her efforts inspired him to pay attention as he got older.

“I don’t know what they’re going through,” Martin said of cancer patients. “I’ve only witnessed and researched and checked up on things, and that’s the only thing I can do. If I can get the opportunity and effort, then I guess that’s all I can do. I’m doing my part in this small place, so it is what it is.”

Martin said his work is well worth the time and sweat because it allows him to see breast cancer from a different point of view.

“For me, it’s not just, ‘Hey, I’m doing this so I can have a reason to wear pink,’” Martin said. “No, it’s a reason why I can give an opportunity for other people to do different things they don’t have to do. I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to be involved in this. I don’t have to take my time out. It’s an opportunity. God blessed me to do it, so, I mean, I can’t look back.”