For race sponsors, a classic win-win

For race sponsors, a classic win-win

If you’ve ever been a spectator at this charity sporting event, you might’ve noticed the pink streaks ribboning through the crowd of athletes.

For the past two years, adding strips of hot pink flair to participants’ hair at the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure has been the work of Yarmouth’s J. Kelley Salon – a colorful tradition that’ll continue this year.

But also at the third annual event on Aug. 15, salon owner Jill Kelley will sell natural cosmetics through her charity, LipGloss 4 Lives, with all proceeds going to the cancer-fighting triathlon.

“What a better way to raise money than to help women bring their inner beauty out?” said Kelley, who launched LipGloss 4 Lives late last year with friend Tina Hendricks.

Charity events are nothing without their supporters – and Tri for a Cure has legions of them.

This year’s event has more than 100 sponsors, ranging from small companies with a handful of employees to big institutions with hundreds of workers. Meanwhile, pledges range from $1,000 to $10,000, and some of the most notable and dedicated supporters, according to race director Julie Marchese, include Wright Express, WMTW, Key Bank, Bangor Savings Bank and Southern Maine Community College, which will host the event at its South Portland campus.

Together, Marchese explained, sponsors have come up with an impressive $100,000 this year, almost double the $60,000 raised last year.

LipGloss 4 Lives, for its part, will be on hand at the festivities taking orders for its natural cosmetics, lip gloss and application kits, with all net proceeds going to the event, Kelley explained.

Still, working under the slogan “Cosmetics for a Cause,” and donating 100 percent of its net earnings to various charities, the startup company has much loftier intentions.

“Our mission is to be an unstoppable fundraising force in the United States,” said Hendricks.

For other companies, support isn’t always monetary: Businesses also provide T-shirts, food, music, marketing, media coverage, flowers for race finishers, and flags marking the route, Marchese noted. Some sponsor athletes, as well, or send teams of their own female competitors.

“There are so many women, so many people, within these companies, that have been affected by cancer,” said Marchese.

Take John Rogers.

Maine Running Co., his Portland business specializing in footwear and running apparel, donated $10,000 to this year’s event. One employee is also participating, and the company is supporting training groups, as well.

“Cancer is a personal cause for me, because I’ve had members of my family pass away because of it,” Rogers said. “It’s our way of giving back. An all-women’s event is unique, and a very emotional event for participants. We feel it’s important that our business is connected with that.”

In the end, support shows a commitment to fighting cancer, he and others noted – but the exposure is nice, too.

According to Marchese, the event will have more than 5,000 spectators coming out to view 950 athletes as they run, swim and bike. Also, she explained, sponsorship isn’t just a one-day shot. Tri for a Cure also includes 15 training clinics, a fun run for the kids and a 5K – among other events – spanning from February to mid-August.

So really, “It’s nine months of exposure for them in front of a huge range of people,” Marchese said.

Ultimately, though, it’s the personal experiences that draw companies to the fundraiser.

Hendricks, for her part, lost her grandmother to lung cancer at age 62.

“I hope to be part of finding a cure in her honor and before myself, my mom, or my daughter is effected,” Hendricks explained. “Breast cancer research is leading in cancer research, and it could be key to unlocking the mysteries of all cancers.”

A Closer Look:

For more on event sponsors, visit

To learn more about LipGloss 4 Lives, visit

Jill Kelley will sell natural cosmetics through her charity, LipGloss 4 Lives, at the Tri for a Cure event Aug. 15.

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