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A Taylor Made gift to breast cancer research

I want to give a shout-out to Taylor Made Products for what it did during IBEX to raise awareness for breast cancer research. The Gloversville, N.Y., company produced a limited edition of its 40-year-old mermaid fender in bright pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to raise money to fight the disease.

Taylor brought 50 of the pink mermaids to IBEX and gave one to anyone who made a donation of $20 or more. The company is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the IBEX initiative to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, says Taylor vice president of sales and marketing David Karpinski.

“It was very rewarding to step away from the dollars and cents of doing business at the show … and do something rewarding,” says Karpinski, who introduced the pink mermaid and explained the program at a brief press conference during the show. “I will always remember this show as the show where we did something very cool. It’s a great awareness story.”

The introduction of the pink mermaid on this, her 40th birthday, helped focus attention on the fact that the foundation recommends women have a mammogram every one or two years once they turn 40.

The pink fenders brought attention not so much to the company as it did to breast cancer awareness, and that was the point. Who hasn’t been touched either personally or through a friend or loved one by this disease? For three days at IBEX, Karpinski says, he heard many moving, personal stories. Some of those who made a donation told Karpinski they were going to give the pink mermaid to a friend battling cancer.

“We took in a little over $500 in donations, and more are still coming in,” Karpinski says. “We’re about halfway through to our goal, and I suspect we will be there at the end.”

As long as interest continues, Karpinski says, the pink fenders will be sold at West Marine and other retail partners, with a portion of the sales dedicated to the cancer foundation.

The mermaid fender has a long history with Taylor. It was introduced in 1972 as part of a trio of new character fenders that included a fish and “Jonah the whale.” The latter two were discontinued long ago, but tens of thousands of the mermaid fenders have been sold during its long run, according to the company.

Karpinski says he “wrongly” made the decision to discontinue the mermaid fender in the mid-1990s, bringing her back after fielding some angry phone calls. “I didn’t realize how iconic she was,” he says.

The idea that led to this program was sparked by a request from the daughter of Taylor president Jason Pajonk-Taylor, who asked whether her father could produce a pink fender. He certainly could.

Toward the end of the press conference in Louisville, Ky., 15-year-old Kiera Taylor, back home in New York, enthusiastically texted her father, who was standing on the show floor at IBEX: “It was my idea!”

And a good idea it was.

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