With the close of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September, teal has become more than the talk of the town; it’s become the talk of a brand nationwide. In its second year, “Newk’s Cares”—Newk’s Eatery’s ovarian cancer awareness movement—has raised more than $150,000 for research through both last month’s annual OCRF Ovarian Cycle Jackson fundraiser and its year-round, in-restaurant fundraising and awareness campaign that kicked off in August.

The September 17 spin cycle celebration, held in Newk’s home base of Jackson, Mississippi, exceeded last year’s event with record participation and giving by nearly 150 riders. This is a 56 percent participation increase from the first year. Over the past two years, Newk’s Cares has raised more than $280,000 for Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF)—a number that is expected to grow.

“‘Passion that goes beyond the kitchen’—these are the words used to champion the Newk’s Cares movement, and it’s such a fitting picture of what Newk’s is all about,” says Audra Moran, president and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the oldest and largest charity in the U.S. funding ovarian cancer research. “To date, Ovarian Cycle Jackson is the largest of OCRF’s Ovarian Cycle rides this year, and we anticipate even greater involvement in the future as Newk’s Cares becomes an increasingly critical partner in helping us fund the research that will one day find a cure.”

Each year, 200,000 women worldwide are diagnosed with ovarian cancer—with only 45 percent of women surviving longer than five years. However, with early detection and treatment, this rate is proven to increase to more than 92 percent. This daunting survival rate hits particularly close to home for Newk’s Eatery CEO Chris Newcomb and his wife Lori, whose personal battle with the disease began in 2013 and inspired the Newk’s Cares mission to generate greater community awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

“Awareness truly saves lives,” says Lori Newcomb, Newk’s Cares cofounder, who was this year elected to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s governing board of directors. “Through Newk’s Cares, we’ve connected with countless people with stories like my own who all speak to how critical it is for women to be able to recognize warning signs and start treatment early. The year-on-year enthusiasm for this message has been overwhelming, and we’re so thankful to our partners like St. Dominic Hospital who help us make sure it’s a message that continues to be spread.”

Since August, the Newk’s Cares campaign has reached more than 100 million people through both national and local PR outreach efforts. While inspired and founded by the Newcombs, the Newk’s Cares initiative was also shaped by the vision of Newk’s CMO Alan Wright, who ultimately translated the Newcombs’ personal passion into a core community cause. OCRF honored Wright at this year’s Ovarian Cycle Jackson for his instrumental role in making Newk’s Cares a reality and making significant strides in the fight against ovarian cancer. 

Beyond the Ovarian Cycle Jackson event, Newk’s turned its restaurants teal with seasonal teal cups and permanent teal straws in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Guests also now have the chance to join the stand against ovarian cancer 365 days a year by purchasing one of Newk’s Cares water bottles—with 10 cents from every bottle sold year-round to be donated to OCRF to further fuel the global search for a cure.

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