Buying power

Hutch Magazine

Buying power

From cars to candleholders, companies and customers join forces to save lives

By Andrea Detter

glassybaby founder Lee Rhodes

Cancer survivor and glassybaby founder Lee Rhodes speaking to Fred Hutch supporters at the first IN for the Hutch fundraiser in 2012.

Photo courtesy of Phototainment

IF YOU'VE SHOPPED at Safeway recently, purchased a glassybaby votive or even had your car serviced, you may have helped save someone's life.

In the truest sense of retail therapy, dozens of companies and their customers have banded together to benefit research into next-generation cures, and programs for current patients, at Fred Hutch.

For the past decade, Safeway stores in the Pacific Northwest have hosted campaigns asking customers to add a small donation to their grocery bill when they check out. Thousands of shoppers have responded generously. This year's March promotion alone raised nearly $700,000 for research activities at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.

Those check stand donations have, over time, launched numerous pilot studies and provided a van that offers mammograms in communities where access to breast screening services may be challenging. Many women have had tumors detected earlier because of the program.

"No donation is too small to make a difference," explained Dr. Elizabeth Prescott, Fred Hutch's director of Corporate and Foundation Relations. "Corporate giving fuels cancer research and galvanizes community members — through their workplaces, in their day-to-day lives — not just when they are affected by cancer. … It can mean the difference between a breakthrough research project receiving funding or not. It can enable a patient's husband or child to stay with her during the most challenging fight of her life."

A colon cancer survivor herself, Prescott appreciates the power of these programs: "It feels good to see companies supporting cancer research in their own backyard and doing their part to support their clients and customers who may be facing cancer," she said.

It's often just as personal for the companies that give, like Michael's Toyota. Two members of the dealership's corporate family survived breast cancer, and their team wanted to give back. Michael's Toyota became the first dealership to partner with Fred Hutch. Now, other area auto dealers also run promotions through which they make a donation per car sold or serviced.

And it's personal for Lee Rhodes, the Seattle-based entrepreneur who founded glassybaby in 2001, several years after she was diagnosed with bronchial carcinoma. A gift she received while undergoing chemotherapy — a votive her husband made in a glass-blowing class — brought her comfort and sparked a business that now aids many others.

Write to Andrea Detter at

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