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BeCause You Care

Wear Your Politics on Your Wrist:
Silicone Wristbands Supporting Causes Are Fashionable

By Rachelle Chong

The craze started with “Live strong,” the mantra of Lance Armstrong, six-time winner of the punishing Tour de France bicycle race and a survivor of testicular cancer. In 2004, Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation created a yellow silicone wristband embossed with his “LiveSTRONG” motto to raise a million dollars for cancer research and education. Armstrong wore the yellow band while winning his sixth Tour de France. The LiveSTRONG band was adopted by White House hopefuls John Kerry and VP candidate John Edwards, and seen on actors Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. Suddenly, the rich and famous were sporting one. Now, a year later, with 33 million sold, the LiveSTRONG wristband is called “the fashion icon of 2004.” Thus, a fashion trend with a charitable twist was born.

Spurred by LiveSTRONG’s success, other charities now offer cause bracelets. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation sells its popular “Sharing the Promise” pink wristband to families and friends of those afflicted with breast cancer. Another band reading “Support Breast Cancer Research and Education” is endorsed by Dr. Ernie Bodai, founder of CureBreastCancer, Inc. Other pink breast cancer wristbands read “Find the Cure”, “Believe,” and “Think Pink.”

Following the tragic East Asian December tsunami, ocean blue wristbands benefited tsunami emergency relief funds. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has its red “HOPE” wristband. The American Cancer Society offers no less than five cause wristbands, including the orange "Livefree. Smokefree" wristband, the "Fear Nothing" blue colon cancer wristband, and the purple "Celebrate Hope" Relay for Life wristband. ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) has the red "Never Give Up" wristband. The American Heart Association offers a red, all-hearts wristband as part of its "Go Red" women’s heart disease campaign. The Lupus Foundation of American has a purple "Someone You Know Has Lupus" butterfly wristband. There are four blue autism bands, including the "Think Autism Think Cure" wristband by the National Autism Association. The annual San Francisco to Los Angeles AIDS/Lifecycle 5 bike event has a wristband reading “RIDE TO END AIDS.” With a goal of stamping out global AIDS and poverty, the new ONE Campaign has famous spokespersons, like Brad Pitt, Bono, Ellen Degeneres, George Clooney, Claudia Schiffer, and Danny Glover. The new "I Support Public TV" blue wristbands will be released in June, to urge Congress to adequately fund public television in America. A small orphanage in Guatemala, Casa de Angeles, has its own light blue wristband to raise money for its 28 children.

With the Iraqi conflict, patriotic bands abound. Bands debossed with “USA” and “Support the Troops” benefit the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a group assisting families of fallen soldiers. Another is the Survivors of Soldiers Fund desert camouflage "Support the Troops" wristband, benefiting survivors of fallen servicemen and women in Iraq. The red "One Nation" wristband benefits Operation Homefront, established after the 9/11 attack to channel volunteer and monetary aid to the families of troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Young people are driving the wristband craze, both in the US and in Europe. They are not only wearing lots of wristbands, but creating them. Shelby, a 10-year-old San Francisco schoolgirl, began a non profit group and website,, to raise money for children around the world in need. Shelby and other children she inspired are raising money via wristband sales and other projects, and then donating the money each month to different charities that focus on children. So far, Kids Band2Gether has donated $11,700 to Unicef, Save the Children, the Children's Hunger Relief Fund, World Wildlife Fund, and the Make a Wish Foundation.

Students collect the wristbands, trade them, and give them as gifts. The bracelets are affordable with retail prices between $1 and $5. They can express their politics and attitudes with a wristband. For example, some “counter cause bands” have cropped up. One reads “LiveWRONG” with a black skull and crossbones, another proclaims “I Didn’t Vote 4 Bush”, while others read “Desire”, "High Maintenance", "Attitude" and "Spoiled".

The author is the President of Carina Jewelry, at 231 West Portal Ave. which stocks over a hundred and ten silicone cause bracelets.

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