“Keep up with Ralph Lauren,” a senior Polo Ralph Lauren staffer announced. “He will lead the walk.”
That was the mantra early Wednesday morning, when Lauren assembled a few hundred members of his staff at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza to kick off the company’s annual Pink Pony Walk, snaking through Central Park for nearly two miles.
Lauren just marked the 10th anniversary of the charitable program, which he launched to raise cancer awareness and support programs for cancer screening, early diagnosis, treatment, research and patient navigation. That morning, the designer recalled his impetus for his campaign to fight cancer. In the late Eighties, then-Washington Post fashion editor Nina Hyde approached Lauren after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Vowing to help, he has since worked on multiple initiatives to raise awareness and funds to combat cancer, and that spirit has permeated the culture of the company. On Wednesday, his staff, including Buffy Birrittella, Wayne Meichner, Charles Fagan and Bette-Ann Gwathmey, turned out in force. They were all dressed for the walk head-to-toe in black, accentuated only by the Pink Pony motif on the special black T-shirts Lauren created for the walk. Employees outside of New York were walking too. “In Geneva, Hong Kong, Japan and London, our colleagues will walk in the days to come,” Lauren said.
As part of the milestone, Polo teamed with Charitybuzz.com for an online Pink Pony auction featuring such lots as a three-night stay at the Round Hill Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica; a Paris weekend with dinner at the Ralph’s restaurant; tickets to a Miami Heat game and the chance to meet LeBron James; a CNN Studio tour with Anderson Cooper, and a chance to play polo in Palm Beach with Nacho Figueras. Net proceeds of the auction, which ends Oct. 21, will benefit the Pink Pony Fund. “The goal is $1 million,” said David Lauren, senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications.