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Pippa Mann on Racing for Susan G. Komen and #MoreThanPink Campaign

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is proud to support Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana and its mission to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the coming decade. For the next 24 hours, IMS digital and social channels will be taken over by the #MoreThanPink Campaign to support this important cause. Learn more about Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana.

Pippa Mann is a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter and has a partnership with Susan G. Komen. She answered a few questions for today as the site takes on a new hue for the #MoreThanPink campaign.

We see you in pink every May at the “500,” what has it meant to you to represent Susan G. Komen? You must feel like you’re racing for much more than yourself and your team.

You know, I never thought I would be the girl in pink at the racetrack. It's something I shied away from so much in my career, yet now it has become something I embrace. It’s an honor to represent a major nonprofit on our biggest stage, but it’s a big responsibility too. I have been incredibly touched by how strongly the survivor community has embraced this pink racing program, and yes, when I’m in the race, it feels like I am racing for all of them too.

You’ve had so many great initiatives with your “500” program, including carrying names of breast cancer fighters and survivors in your car at the 100th Running earlier this year. What do you remember most about that?

Running with the names of survivors, thrivers, and names to honor loved ones lost inside the cockpit of my car to help raise money in our campaign for Susan G. Komen each May is definitely one of the most special, and most meaningful things we have been able to do. It’s something I have to try not to think about as I strap in for the race, because when you do actually stop to think about the meaning of all those names, it can really hit you emotionally. This is especially true for me personally as I actually contribute to the campaign myself for a couple of the names we place in the cockpit. The first year we did this, it was for my family members who I have lost, but now I’m contributing for two friends I made in this community whom I have lost too.

What does the #MoreThanPink campaign mean to you?

To me, it’s a call to action, and I am so thrilled that I was included on “The List,” because to me, what Dale Coyne Racing and I try to do with our pink racing effort each May sort of embodies that “More Than Pink” state of mind. From the very first year we did this, painting the car pink, and wearing those marks and logos wasn’t enough, we were trying to figure out how to raise money doing this too. Learning how to create and build an effective crowd-funding campaign that would appeal to race fans, and could run alongside the pink car on track was a big step in the process, and then I also donate my time to events whenever I can, and Dale Coyne Racing has been exceptionally generous getting the Komen-colored show car they painted up to events where we can as well.

However, you don't have to be a racing driver, or an athlete or an influencer to be more than pink. Anyone can be. You just have to make that effort to make a difference – whether it’s volunteering for an event, driving a friend to her chemo appointments, joining a team, becoming a Team Captain for your local Race for the Cure or contributing to a campaign that someone else is running that means something to you. So while I might be the name on The List from Verizon IndyCar Series racing, really every race fan who has taken part in our campaign for the past three years to help us raise those funds is More Than Pink too.

How has the cause evolved during your time as an ambassador? Are we getting closer to our ultimate goal of a cure?

One of the biggest misconceptions about breast cancer is that it is just one disease. In reality there are so many different types of breast cancer, and all of them need targeted treatments, as what works for one type of breast cancer doesn’t necessarily work for another type. This fall, Susan G. Komen has launched a new bold goal with the aim of reducing breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by half within the next decade. They have worked with doctors, scientists and researchers to come up with a strong but achievable goal, and more of their research funding than ever before is being directed specifically towards the most aggressive types of breast cancer and metastatic disease. Given how around one-third of all breast cancer cases do go on to metastasize, sometimes years after the original all-clear, trying to understand the science behind this progression is an incredibly important next step, as is developing more treatment options for women and men currently living with metastatic disease.

It’s never too early for us to talk about next May – we’re going to see you in the 101st Running, right? You had your best finish last year and there’s room for more.

One of the toughest things about trying to run this pink racing program is trying to find enough financial support and sponsorship to actually put the car on track each year. We’re effectively giving away our most valuable real estate as an in-kind donation to Komen, and then we’re still trying to find the funding to make a race car run. So we’re constantly looking for companies who might want to partner up with us, and help us keep this pink racing program on the race track. I’m incredibly lucky to have a team like Dale Coyne Racing, and team owners like Dale and Gail who are standing behind me, and I’m so grateful for the partners who have already joined our racing program. Right now I’m excited about the potential for 2017, and I’m going to keep working hard this offseason to try and put those off-track deals together that will allow me to be back on track come May.

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