The first thing that caught my eye when I left the cruise terminal and began my visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia was a row of big, pink sightseeing buses. I was intrigued by the possibility that a tour bus company might be raising awareness about breast cancer by painting its buses pink and using signage to carry the message of early intervention.
As I approached the buses and was able to read the signage, I was thrilled to read about the partnership between Ambassatours Gray Line/Big Pink Sightseeing and The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to not only raise awareness about breast cancer, but raise funds for breast cancer research.
So, I bought a ticket and boarded the bus. I was pleased to see the walls of the bus carrying information abut reducing the risk of breast cancer and signage about the importance of early intervention screenings. While touring Halifax, I spoke with fellow passengers, asking them why this tour bus rather than the others available at the dock. Most shared that they knew someone touched by the disease and liked the idea that they were doing something to fight breast cancer while enjoying themselves at the same time.
The ride was comfortable. I picked up quite a bit of history from the guide and took advantage of the opportunity to get off at a site I wanted to explore and then catch another bus when I was ready to continue my tour.
When I got back to the states, I wanted to learn more about the big pink buses, so I wrote to Dennis Campbell (no relation) President of Ambassatours Gray Line and Big Pink Sightseeing, Halifax. Dennis shared that, in part, the inspiration for starting the fleet of pink buses came from his mother, a breast cancer survivor.
Ambassatours Gray Line, began Big Pink Sightseeing a year ago in St. John’s, New Brunswick. It is one of a kind; offering touring in multiple cities that benefits breast cancer research through giving a portion of each ticket sale (minimum of $1) from daily tours and a 100% of revenue from special events for breast cancer awareness and the first day or two of the touring season.
In less than ten months, its pink bus fleet has grown from eight to 65 buses operating in Vancouver, Halifax, and Charlottetown, Seattle, Portland, and Oregon with plans for New York, Boston, Orlando, Honolulu and London. In Canada, Big Pink Sightseeing partners with The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation; in United States it partners with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Currently, Each location has different start and end dates. None of them operate year round yet but most begin between May 1 – June 1 and finish Nov 1 or Dec 1. Halifax and Saint John only operate on days when cruise ships are in port. All of the others operate 7 days per week.
The CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Nancy Margeson, credits Big Pink Bus tour with increasing awareness about breast cancer through the free advertising on the buses, not only among tourists, but among the residents living in the cities where Big Pink has a presence. She measures the impact by the marked increase in participation in the Foundation’s fundraising activities since the buses began running.
After its first season of operation, in St. John’s alone, Ambassatours Gray Line sent the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation a check for $33,000 dollars raised by Big Pink Bus tour.
So, the next time you find yourself in a new city and want to see the city; look around for a big pink bus and hop on to support breast cancer research!