WEST ORANGE, NJ - Six businessmen who’ve dedicated themselves to fighting breast cancer were honored for their efforts Friday night when Susan G. Komen North Jersey (SGKNJ) named them its first Pink Tie Guys.
The men, Joe Sheridan, Neal Schuman, Robert Schultz, Jonathan “Ashley” Schultz, Kenneth Wenger and Brion Brandes, were praised by the non-profit organization at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange.
TAPinto.net was the event's media sponsor.
The Pink Tie Guys are prominent North Jersey businessmen: Sheridan is president and chief operating officer of Wakefern Food Corporation/ShopRite, Schuman is CEO and president of Arthur Schuman, Inc.; Robert and Ashley Schultz are the owners of Schultz Furrier in Millburn, Wenger is senior vice president of PNC Investments and Brandes is executive vice president, business development at Spectra BioPharma Selling Solutions.
But the men were not named Pink Tie Guys due to their business acumen. They received the honor because they’ve distinguished themselves by being “advocates for breast health education and breast cancer awareness,” said SGKNJ. The organization said the Pink Tie Guys are men who “can help mobilize, energize and engage people in Komen’s mission and events in their communities, companies and organizations.”
At the affair, lawyer Marc Futterweit was given the 2016 “Journey of Courage” award. Futterweit is an 8-year cancer survivor.
SGKNJ Board of Trustees President Karen Maleta described the group’s “inaugural class” of Pink Tie Guys as “a unique collection of leaders whose work and dedication help further Komen’s mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever.”
She called the men “beacons of hope in our community,” and said their support goes a long way to help SGKNJ expand its efforts “within and beyond North Jersey.”
For some of the Pink Tie Guys, including Sheridan, those efforts were very personal. Sheridan said Komen was there when he and his wife, Joan, needed help and support. “Komen is a journey and we’ve been on it for 14 years,” said Sheridan. “It's been 14 years since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Sheridan remembered the first day he and his wife arrived, thanks to Komen, at St. Barnabas.
“There was a sign in the lobby that said, 'The only thing worse than being told you have cancer, is being told a second time,'” he said. “So when you hear that you go in and you play to win. They were superb. Then after you're done with the surgeries and all of that, then you come into the parts of life: you go home, you talk to your kids, you talk to friends. As other people go through that journey, I talked to my co-workers, I talked to their husbands, sometimes in a way that only a guy can connect with another guy.”
Sheridan took a humble approach to being named a Pink Tie Guy, saying he was glad to do “whatever little bit we can do to keep the cause, the flame, alive to raise money or to represent support so that other people can have the support that we had. That's what Komen means to us. It's the play it forward theme."
Louis LaSalle, vice president, external affairs, at Barnabas Health said he is often moved when he sees survivors triumphantly stand before audiences.
“I've been at Saint Barnabas since 1990, 26 years ago,” he said. “As soon as the Susan G. Komen event started, we were involved. When I see the survivors get up on that reviewing stand, it's incredible. This is something we should be able to stop. There are so many cancers, but breast cancer we should be able to do away with. We believe in Susan G. Komen. I will always support them."
Kristin Badolato of Bernardsville said her grandmother and aunt were both diagnosed with breast cancer. They didn’t survive, she told the audience. “This cause is near and dear to my heart,” said Badolato. “I started volunteering with the organization about a month ago. It just feels right to give back."
Pink Tie Affair sponsors included Wakefern, Barnabas Health, Dun & Bradstreet, Bard, PSEG, Goya, Novartis, Atlantic Health and TAPinto. Ryan Jor El Coleman, selling manager, men's department, at Saks Fifth Avenue said Saks of Short Hills donated all the pink ties that the honorees wore at the event.
Proceeds from the affair will be used to fund breast cancer screening, health education, patient navigation, treatment support and survivorship programs in SGKNJ’s 9-county service region.