Meet the 'Real Men' participating in this year's American Cancer Society initiative

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chairs Kelly Harvey and Mitch McGrath
Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chairs Kelly Harvey and Mitch McGrath

It's almost that time of year again when men from the community don pink. Their goal? To help the American Cancer Society save lives from breast cancer.

Real Men Wear Pink is an annual campaign that asks local leaders to help raise awareness and funds for the cause - an ask that goes beyond fashion. In addition to wearing pink every day throughout October, each man commits his time to outreach, competing to be the top fundraiser among his peers.

Last year, Chattanooga's power of pink raised a record-breaking $140,000.

And this year, the campaign is off to a strong start - raising $30,000 in the first week.

Now, let's meet this year's men in pink and hear their reasons for wanting to help.

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Dr. John Huggins

Dr. John Huggins

General Surgeon, University Surgical Group at Erlanger Hospital

"Breast cancer has had an extremely strong impact on my life as a breast oncology surgeon. I find myself saying, 'This is why we get mammograms,' several times a week when I am in the office with patients. We are fortunate to have excellent breast imaging centers here in Chattanooga, along with cutting-edge technology and outstanding radiologists allowing us to detect changes when they are small. Anything we can do to increase breast cancer screening is going to benefit all of us."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Rig Burger

Jeff (Rig) Burger

Furniture designer, Rig Burger Designs

"I have accepted the challenge to be involved this year because I have seen the devastation and worry breast cancer can cause both on those who are diagnosed as well as family members and caregivers. I am inspired by the research of the American Cancer Society, and it is my hope that they continue to find breakthroughs in early detection and therapies."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Michael Sutton

Michael Sutton

Chief Financial Officer, CHI Memorial

"I have had several women in my circle who were diagnosed with the devastating diagnosis of cancer. I am deeply moved to promote and advocate protection of all people especially through promotion of screenings. I am a married father of two young women, and my hope for the future of breast cancer and all cancers [is that they] will continue to be minimized through early detection and research. The best defense really is a good offense."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Cody Harvey

Cody Harvey

Executive Director, Morning Pointe of Chattanooga – Shallowford

"Cancer has affected my family in a multitude of ways. My grandfather died of lung cancer; two uncles passed away from lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, and my father has battled skin and prostate cancer. I wanted to participate in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to support, fund raise and bring awareness to this great cause. My goal during this campaign is to spread the message, 'We are stronger together,' and raise money to help those I know and don't know."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Jon Chadwick

Jon Chadwick

Realtor and Managing Partner, Rethink Real Estate – Keller Williams Realty

"My wife Aimee was diagnosed with Her2+ breast cancer in October 2020. She went through COVID, cancer, chemo and a double mastectomy, all within seven months. She is a warrior. I stand in awe of her, in support of her, in honor of her and all of those like her.

"The American Cancer Society has been instrumental in supporting my wife during this fight to defeat cancer. She would not have the opportunity to be where she is today if it were not for the research, the technology and advancements which armed TN Oncology with the tools needed to conquer her cancer."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Dr. Todd Levin

Dr. Todd Levin

Allergy/Immunologist, Chief Medical Officer, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic

"I know that I am not alone in how hard cancer has hit my family. My father has survived bouts with both prostate cancer and melanoma. My grandmother died from pancreatic cancer and my grandfather died from hepatic adenocarcinoma. My wife's aunt also died after a long battle with breast cancer. I would do anything to help cure this terrible disease.

"I am excited to help make a difference in the fight against cancer locally by increasing the number and scope of research trials available to patients in the Chattanooga area."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Dr. Matt Graham

Dr. Matt Graham

M.D. of Oncology & Hematology, Tennessee Oncology

"As an oncologist, I am privileged to walk with cancer patients during some of the darkest days of their lives. The resilience and bravery that these patients display during their cancer journeys continue to inspire me. I could never give back as much as these patients have given me. My Real Men Wear Pink efforts are in honor of all of them.

"The American Cancer Society is passionate about attacking cancer comprehensively. Funds go toward education, prevention, groundbreaking research and critical support services. Funding all 4 of these areas is critical to continue our progress in the prevention and treatment of all cancers."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly

Principal Broker/ Real Estate, Scenic South Properties

"(I am participating) in honor and support of my friend in her fight against cancer. (I'm excited to be) raising awareness of the importance to be routinely tested for various types of cancer. See your primary physician annually! I am excited to do my part in supporting my friends who have had cancer, and their strength and endurance as a result of their fight."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / T.W. Francescon, Jr.

T.W. Francescon Jr.

Corporate Director of Human Resources, Southern Champion Tray

"(I am participating) for all my friends and relatives who have and had cancer, in honor of their fight against cancer. I wish to honor my Southern Champion Tray co-workers and others in my life who have experienced or are experiencing cancer right now. I pray for the families of my friends who have lost their battle, and I pray my bride, daughter, mom and sister never have to face the challenges a cancer diagnosis brings."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / David Everett

David Everett

Dog Trainer, Blowing Springs Kennel

"(I am participating) in honor of a relative who has had cancer (and) raising money to support all those in their fight against cancer."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Arnold Ruelas

Arnold Ruelas

Image Consultant, Arnold Ruelas LLC

"I have two dear friends from my childhood with mothers who went through or are still battling breast cancer. I am doing this for all the mothers and for my dear friends in their fight against cancer. I want to remind men that just because we may not deal with breast cancer in the same way women do, it doesn't mean we cannot be there to help in any way that we can.

"I am surrounded by so many powerful women in my life that I am excited to do this to support them."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Kevin Beavers

Kevin Beavers

Senior Vice President of Operations, Transcard

"Your life changes completely when you become a parent! For me, my new purpose in life is my 1.5-year-old daughter, Stella, and I will do everything in my power to protect her. I'm humbled to represent the American Cancer Society in Real Men Wear Pink, and through this, I am honoring my daughter to ensure that her future is filled with the greatest resources for her to live a full and healthy life."

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Kevin Flavin

Kevin Flavin

Specialty Rep, Amgen

"I have many friends and family that have been affected by this disease and unfortunately have had to see what it does to families, and I want to be a part of something that can help in any way. The women battling this disease are some of the strongest people I know. They are the definition of resistance, and I am doing this for them and all the others affected by this disease!"

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Brody Grant

Brody Grant

Student Body President, Class of 2022, Boyd Buchanan School

"Not long after I was born, my beloved grandmother was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer. I was too young to remember her year-long fight, but I am happy to say that 17 years later, she is still rockin' and rollin' along, and I wear pink in her honor!"

photo Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chairs Kelly Harvey and Mitch McGrath

Meet this year's event co-chairs, who are also 2020's top fundraisers.

Kell Harvey

Outside Sales Representative, JAT Oil

Total raised in 2020: $37,377

"[My inspiration] was to share the experience of my beautiful wife Laurie and her courageous decision to be proactive in her fight to defeat the odds of genetics with an elective mastectomy."

Mitch McGrath

Co-owner, Mitchell Robert Studio Salon

Total raised in 2020: $29,000

"I am especially proud of (my wife's and my) last two years, since my wife's cancer diagnosis. She took on every challenge with poise, fearless determination and grace. My goal is to kick this terrible disease in the butt and raise some money to help find a cure."

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