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November 1, 2017
Community involvement, Projects

Pepper continues to pay it forward after my own breast cancer journey.

I've always donated to organizations like Susan G. Komen, but I had never found that push that made me truly passionate to get involved. It wasn't until my breast cancer diagnosis in November 2016 that things changed. After chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation, I'm proud to say I'm a breast cancer survivor. And I'm equally proud to say that I work for a company that supported me along my journey.

Pink elevator at Community Hospital East

I came back to work at Pepper Construction this year, and it was like coming home to my work family, where even our president takes time to check on me. Everyone I work with has shown me support, and Pepper continues to pay it forward. As I slowly but surely got back in the saddle at work, an opportunity arose for me to promote awareness about breast cancer – and it's an opportunity that I jumped at being a part of.

The $175 million Community Hospital East campus redevelopment is just one site out of many across the country to get a pink elevator to support Susan G. Komen. Organized by metro Elevator, one of Pepper's trade partners on the project, the Ride the Pink Elevator Campaign serves to promote awareness and generate funding to support breast cancer-related organizations and efforts. Seventy-five percent of donations to the Indianapolis Ride the Pink Elevator campaign will remain in the local area, and 25 percent will pay for groundbreaking research. 

Pepper's involvement with the project and campaign reinforces to me how involved the company is and how much it cares. You hear about Pepper donating to various organizations, but you don't realize its impact until you're affected. And you also don't realize how much you can be a part of making a difference.

I shared my story of survival and cut the ribbon to help launch the Ride the Pink Elevator campaign at Community Hospital East. While it wasn’t my first time speaking publicly about my cancer experience, it may have been the most challenging retelling of my story.

Oddly enough, recapping my journey with strangers is easy. It's sharing my tribulations and triumphs with people I know that I struggle with. It's more emotional, and speaking at a jobsite sometimes hits home a little more because people see that one of their own has been impacted. It wasn't just my coworkers, either. I received treatment through Community Health Network, so I ended up speaking to two of my families – my work family and my cancer care family.

At the campaign kickoff event, I mentioned how I feel the employees and staff of Community Health truly deserve the new facilities Pepper is helping provide. A project of this magnitude and with so much community impact, your mind tends to jump to the patients this new campus will help, not necessarily the staff. But I don't have any family in town, so as I went through my treatment, the nurses and everyone at Community became a support system and a family for me. They helped me get better, and I told them I'd be there for them if they ever need me. 

Well, they did, and raising awareness about Susan G. Komen and Ride the Pink Elevator feels like one way to help. And it won't be the last. I've found a cause I'm passionate about and, with Pepper's support, I plan to continue working with both the Community Health Network Foundation and Susan G. Komen to promote breast cancer awareness in our communities.

The CHE Ride the Pink Elevator campaign runs to November 17, but my involvement won't end then.

To learn more about and donate to the Ride the Pink Elevator campaign, click here.

About the Author

Karen Wukits

Karen WukitsSenior Project Assistant

Karen Wukits has been with Pepper Construction for more than a decade. She's been involved with projects at Riley Children's Hospital, IU Health Methodist, Parkview Regional Medical Center, and Community North and East hospitals. When she's not working as a senior project assistant, Karen spends time outdoors with her husband and two dogs, and volunteering for the Community Health Network and Susan G. Komen.