What started as an idea to photograph a friend during her personal fight with breast cancer has exploded into a world-wide campaign for breast cancer awareness.
LeighAnn Monaghan, photographer and owner of Soul Search Photography, has a soft spot in her heart for the breast cancer cause after photographing many awareness events and witnessing her mother-in-law, an aunt, and her cousin’s wife battle the disease. When she learned about an old friend’s diagnosis, she was inspired to capture that battle with her camera lens. With her friend posing for the fight wearing pink boxing gloves, a star was born. The photo caught the attention of the Everlast company, inspiring LeighAnn to start the Facebook page “Fight Like A Girl”. The page quickly gained popularity with eye catching photos and fresh and informative posts. As a way to promote the page and spotlight her fans, LeighAnn orchestrated a Free Breast Cancer Awareness Photo Shoot in the Tampa Bay area. Survivors, fighters and supporters were all invited to participate and be captured on film in poses demonstrating they were ready to fight for a cure.
The photo shoot attracted 58 participants from around the Tampa Bay area to Rock Bottom Fitness where the shoot was held. One contestant, Mary-Lou Nast, traveled from Ocala to attend the shoot, and one of LeighAnn’s volunteer production managers, Dana Prchal, traveled all the way from Tuscon, AZ. Once the photos were taken, they were posted on the Fight Like a Girl Facebook page. Fans of the page placed their votes by “Liking” their favorite photo. By contest end, the participant with the most votes was Denise More of Riverview, Florida. Denise had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and at the time of the photo shoot was just two weeks post surgery following a double mastectomy. Her close friend Cindy, who had encouraged Denise to enter the contest, commented on how amazed she was that Denise was able to manage her winning pose- holding her arms up in the air with a strong fight pose- so soon after her surgery.
Denise’s winning photo image will be the featured graphic for the next generation of Fight Like A Girl fashion items where fifteen percent of all sales go to benefit the Gulf Coast Oncology Foundation. This organization offers financial and emotional assistance to qualifying cancer patients in Pinellas County and provides assistance with everyday non-medical expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, and car maintenance.
There were two other top contenders in the contest. Tamara Hayes, also from Riverview, is a breast cancer previvor. At high risk for developing breast cancer, she recently had an elective double mastectomy in an effort to avoid a breast cancer diagnosis. Kimberly Webb, a passionate breast cancer advocate from Tampa, has a family history of breast cancer. As a result of the Free Breast Cancer Awareness Photo Shoot, special friendships developed between the top three participants. All agreed that this was the best part of the experience. In addition, LeighAnn said as a result of the shoot she was able to meet some amazing women. One of those women was Shari Ann Olsen, a breast cancer survivor facing advanced breast cancer. Shari was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the free photo shoot so that she could have a photo taken with her children and grandchildren.
By the time the photo contest ended, the Fight Like A Girl page was nearing 8,000 fans and is close to reaching 9,000 fans to date. For a Facebook Page that only started in July that is a remarkable achievement. Their fans reach from all over the United States to Canada and extend overseas to the UK and Australia.
So what does the future hold for Fight Like A Girl on Facebook? The answer is more photo shoot contests. LeighAnn plans to have two photo shoots in 2011, holding one in the spring and one in the summer. She also hopes to encourage other photographers across the world to do the same. In the meantime, FLAG fans will stay updated and entertained with fresh, frequent, and informative posts from LeighAnn and the Fight Like A Girl Facebook page.
FLAG would like to recognize and thank those who helped with this event:
Mary Geraci & Team
Monique McLaughlin (Morning/Afternoon)
Michelle Barcia (Afternoon/evening)
May & Christy Ibrahim
Video Space: ROCK BOTTOM FITNESS
Photography Space: Ellen Zusman