Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Do-Gooder" Companies Supporting the Fight against Skin Cancer

In most cases, I generally avoid perceived endorsements. As the co-founder of 501 [c] [3] non-profit skin cancer education facility, I want to be doubly sure that our efforts to educate youth and communities about sun safety and skin cancer prevention are done with pure intent. Those of us who are members of The Cancer Crusaders Organization volunteer our time, outside of full-time jobs and grad school, because we are passionate about protecting people from skin cancer. This cause is so near and dear to our hearts. We bleed orange-n-yellow for Skin Cancer Awareness!

Yet, who is to say that only non-profit organizations can contribute, with pure intent, to the fight against cancer? There are a few companies out there who are generously donating time, money, energy, resources and even their heart and soul toward protecting people, especially youth, from the world's most common cancer.

I would like to give a huge heartfelt round-of-applause to two such companies:

First, I would like to thank SKYShades of Florida. I recently received an email that told me about the wonderful contributions SKYShades has made toward building shade structures for Florida elementary schools. Here's the press release that was sent to me about SKYShades:


One Florida business is playing an active role in educating and building awareness on the importance of providing shade for children. SKYShades have donated two shade structures (totaling more than 50K!) to two lucky schools, Millenia Elementary in Orlando and Lyman High School in Longwood, Florida. Robert Black, Assistant Principal of Lyman High School, is over the moon with this donation - he says "Not only is it extremely serviceable [but] it looks fantastic!"

SKYshades, headquarted in Orlando, has helped many schools design and construct custom shade structures to protect their pupils from the scourge of skin cancer. "Our efforts here at SKYShades are to do all we can to increase awareness as well as promote prevention through the use of shade." says Joe McKenna, Executive VP of SKYShades.

Children between the ages of 2-4 are particularly vulnerable and with solar radiation being most intense from 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, the prime hours when youngsters and school personnel are outdoors on campus (during PE, recess & lunch), schools /child care centers and all education facilities need to take a more proactive stance in helping to curb this epidemic.

"Everyone in Florida needs to be aware of the potential harm that sun exposure can cause to us and our children,” says Vernon Sondak, M.D., chief of the Cutaneous Oncology Program at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. “We actively support efforts to increase sun awareness and sun protection. Sunscreens are only a part of sun protection - but they are an important part. It is important to remember that most of our lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18, so it is vital to teach your children good sun habits and protect them from sun damage as they grow."

In Australia, by Law, education facilities MUST provide shade for their students and this is something that the American government needs to consider here especially since melanoma is the only cancer that continues to increase each year.

All of SKYShades shade structures are designed and engineered for local wind codes and not only are they functional, but are also aesthetically pleasing.

SKYShades donates $100,000 annually toward building shade structures in communities throughout Florida.


That said, I would like to publicly praise Del-Ray Dermatologicals (the manufacturers of Blue Lizard Australian Suncream) for the tremendous amount of support they have given to skin cancer prevention over the years. In addition to supporting our effort to distribute copies of the ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources to skin cancer foundations and universities in high-risk states (the next edition will coming early 2008 and distributed accordingly), the CEO of Del-Day Dermatologicals spearheaded the "Sun Safe School" contest with the SHADE Foundation and has personally dedicated his life toward raising awareness for skin cancer. I have met Jeff, personally, and I'm a passionate Blue Lizard Suncream fan! Moreover, Del-Ray Dermatologicals continues to coordinate and collaborate with various organizations, including the Women's Dermatologic Society and the American Academy of Dermatology, in providing education, support, and advocacy on behalf of skin cancer prevention education!

That said, I would also like to thank UVSkinz, a new sun protection clothing company run by a woman who lost her husband to melanoma skin cancer, for contacting The Cancer Crusaders Organization about our children's book - SKIN SENSE (written by our friend Lori Glickmann) which is coming out October 8th. We will be distributing copies of SKIN SENSE to all the melanoma skin cancer foundations throughout the country to help teach parents and children about the importance of proper, lifelong sun safety.

If you know of a "Do-Gooder" - a skin cancer crusader (an individual or an organization) who is championing the cause of skin cancer prevention education, please feel free to email me at

Three cheers to all our skin cancer heroes and champions!

Yours in the fight,
Danielle & The Cancer Crusaders Organization

(Note: The picture above is of the shade structure SKYShades built for Millenia Elementary in Florida).


Here's another company who is doing incredible work on behalf of skin cancer prevention/sun safety:

Business spotlight on Sun Smart PR

Owner: Missy Varner

Location: Home-based business in Bluegrass/Concord

Contact: 865-693-0915, 865-414-4985 or

Web site:

Today there are a variety of products, in addition to sunscreen, to protect you and your family from the sun's damaging UV rays, and Missy Varner is helping get the word out about them with her home-based business, Sun Smart PR.

A former teacher, Varner learned about sun-protective clothing while searching for clothing for her daughters - Abbey, 8, and Emily, 7 - on the Internet. A Web site looking for sales representatives for a sun-protective clothing company caught her eye, and she realized this could be her "niche."

"I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom who could help at my daughters' school and go on field trips, but I also wanted to do something I thought was meaningful but still allowed me to be available for the girls," said Varner, 37.

That was in 2004. Varner now represents 11 companies, all from the comfort of her Bluegrass/Concord home.

"I'm their middle man," Varner explained. "They send me samples, and I contact stores and take them the lines and show them. Then the stores place their orders."

Varner also helps publicize the companies by sending their press kits to parenting magazines and other media. Recent clients have been featured in national publications such as "Child," "Parenting," "Ladies Home Journal," "In Style" and "Parents."

"I'm not trying to compete with big PR firms; I only take companies in sun protection," she noted.

Sun protection includes everything from clothing and accessories to sunglasses and sunscreens, Varner said. She has a personal interest in the products because she and her husband, Mike, a director of engineering, are avid boaters, out on the lake every weekend when the weather is nice.

"I am very careful to protect my family from (the sun)," she said. "I always have researched sunscreen because I don't want to put something harmful on my kids."

Now the Varner family - and their friends - wears sun-protective clothing as well as sunscreen. Boasting a tight weave, a good fabric can block 45-55 percent of UV rays, Varner said.

The companies Varner represents offer clothing for men and women, boys and girls, infants to plus sizes. But as a mom to Abbey - who believes that "everything head to toe has to match" - Varner knows the importance in choosing clothing that your children are going to want to wear. The swimwear, for instance, is lightweight and dries quickly, plus it comes in "fun patterns" with pieces to mix and match.

"These modern products not only look fantastic, they also offer unbeatable protection against sun damage," Varner said. "Sun-protective clothing designers are revolutionizing the industry - they're making a fashion statement that actually saves lives."

"While sun-protective clothing has been popular in Australia for at least 20 years, the concept is just catching on the United States", Varner said. "Out West, sun-protective clothing is finding its way into major department stores, but here, it's more boutique-driven", she added.

"This isn't so well-known yet, so I get to educate (the public) on something worthwhile," she said.

After all, the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society estimates that one in five Americans will face a diagnosis of skin cancer at some point, Varner noted.

"Most of the people I work for have been touched by skin cancer, and they all are doing this to raise awareness," she added. "One is a melanoma survivor who decided to develop a line of children's clothing."

Varner travels to trade shows and is considered an online expert on the subject of sun-protective products, she said. In addition to holding online seminars, Varner is open to speaking to local groups as well.

The biggest challenge, she said, is getting people to understand that it's no longer smart to shun sunscreen in favor of a tan.

"People still want that summer glow, and it's hard to get their minds to go the other way," Varner said.

Armed with awareness and education, though, Varner is working toward her goal.

"I would like to see sun-protective clothing in any store you go into," she said. "I want it to be just like a pair of jeans."


1 comment:

Tom said...


My name is Tom Downey and I’m working with my brother Jeff and his wife Monica. He just started a new company called Water-Shade. It is a product that allows you to bring a canopy with you into the water.
Jeff came up with the idea one day after sitting under a shade by the water’s edge. He had already been in the sun for hours and was trying to get in the shade for the rest of the day. He took a canopy down to the water to sit under. He was in the shade now, only it was still very hot. He wanted to sit in the water while in the shade. The shade could only be moved out so far into the water until you could not sit under it any more. That’s when it hit him, I should make a device to float a canopy on the water.
We are a startup company working from home. I’m doing some research for our business plan and came across your website. I like the information I found here and will come back to look for more.
Here is our web site if you are interested in looking. Cutting down on sun burn’s is our main goal.
Tom Downey