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Thinking pink . . . Palmerston woman Heather McGregor has raised $30,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness through Pink Ribbon breakfasts. She is set to host her ninth event at Waihemo Lodge next Friday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

When Heather McGregor was preparing to host her first Pink Ribbon breakfast nine years ago, she only expected half a dozen people to turn up.

What she thought would be a little morning tea at her Palmerston home turned into a gathering of 60 people on her front lawn, all keen to raise money for the Breast Cancer New Zealand Foundation.

The breakfast has become an annual tradition, with more than 100 people attending now, and she has enlisted her friend Sonya Watson to help.

They have raised more than $30,000 for the Breast Cancer New Zealand Foundation over the years, and are preparing to host this year’s event at Waihemo Lodge next Friday.

More than 100 people were expected at this year’s event, Mrs McGregor said.

The lodge would be decked out in pink, with goodie bags and raffles for people to buy, and all proceeds would go to the foundation, she said.

Oamaru breast cancer survivor Zelie Allan will be the guest speaker.

People come from as far as Oamaru and Dunedin to attend the event, all for the same reasons – to raise awareness.

“People come along because everybody has a story about breast cancer. Someone knows somebody,” Mrs McGregor said.

“We pink out the venue and it’s always a really fun morning, with raffles and prizes.”

While she had not had breast cancer herself, she was passionate about the cause.

Her Pink Ribbon breakfasts began when she saw an advertisement on television, and thought “I could do that”.

“Friends of mine had breast cancer at the time … I could just have a little morning tea.”

At the first event, two people shaved their heads and in 2016, Mrs McGregor shaved hers, too. The breakfasts had outgrown several venues over the years.

“We have lots of people come along who have been through their own breast cancer journeys and they make connections with others who’ve been affected.”

Mrs McGregor and Mrs Watson want to encourage anybody thinking of hosting a Pink Ribbon breakfast to go for it.

“It doesn’t have to be big. What’s important is getting the awareness out there and raising whatever you can. It’s such a fun thing to organise and I always get a real buzz out of doing something good,” Mrs McGregor said.