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Gun Lake Casino Raises $36K for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Gun Lake Casino participated in the 27th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year, raising $36,360 to support breast cancer education, research and treatment programs for thousands of women in the local community.

The Wayland, Michigan-based Gun Lake Casino, owned by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, held a month long campaign of special promotions to raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, partnering with the Susan G. Komen Southwest and West Michigan affiliates. The funds were raised from the sale of pink ribbons sold at the Appliques Gift Shop, pink desserts purchased at Sandhill Café, with 5 percent of monthly winnings from a pink blackjack table and one-percent of all hand paid slot jackpots.

“We are thrilled at the tremendous response from our guests and team members to support these worthy organizations,” said Rob McDermott, the casino's general manager said. “By partnering with these two affiliates, we are able to impact individuals in thirteen counties throughout western Michigan.”

The heads of the two Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliates attended a special event at Gun Lake Casino on November 8 where they each received a check for $18,180. "It is our pleasure to work with the team at Gun Lake Casino,” Jenny Miner, executive director of the Southwest Michigan affiliate, said. “The dollars raised will further our efforts to work towards our Komen vision: a world without breast cancer. Thank you Gun Lake Casino." Carol Perschbacher, president of the West Michigan affiliate, also thanks the casino for its efforts. “Komen West Michigan is truly grateful and honored to be a recipient of all your support and hard work during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Perschbacher said.

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a national nonprofit organization of more than 120 affiliates that was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker in honor of her sister, Susan G. Komen, who lost her battle with cancer but fought long and hard through her diagnosis, treatments and hospitalizations to figure out ways to help other women battling the disease. The organization uses a minimum of 25 percent of the net income raised by each affiliate to support its national Komen for the Cure Grant Program, which funds groundbreaking breast cancer research, meritorious awards and educational and scientific conferences around the world. The remaining 75 percent of the funds raised stays in the local community to fund breast health education, breast cancer screening and treatment projects. The Southwest Michigan affiliate was founded in 1998 and the West Michigan affiliate a year later.

A Department of Health and Human Services website on women’s health reports that breast cancer is a major cause of cancer death in American Indian and Alaska Native women. “Even though native women have lower breast cancer rates than white women, they are more likely than white women to be diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat. . . Many native women do not get breast cancer screening, even when it's available to them. The belief that cancer can't be beat is one reason native women might avoid screening,” the site reports. African American women have the highest rate of death from breast cancer—around 35 deaths per 100,000 population. White women have approximately 26 deaths per 100,000 population, and American Indian/Alaska Native women have around 16 deaths per 100,000 population.

It was our first time that Gun Lake Casino participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Anita Varela, the tribe’s community relations manager, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “Each year we look at who to partner with [for our philanthropic efforts]. This is the first time we partnered with Susan G. Komen and by partnering with the two affiliates we’re able to reach so many more counties. Also, when we do outreach we like it to stay in our community and with Susan G. Komen, 75 percent of the funds raised stays here locally. That was important to us.”

The Gun Lake Casino opened its doors on February 10, 2011. By June 2012, the tribe’s revenue sharing with the state and local communities exceeded $8 million.