ST. GEORGE — At Swig, home of the “dirty soda” and other tasty carbonated creations, customers can help Utah breast cancer patients with their purchases through the rest of October.
Swig founder Nicole Tanner told St. George News the Save the Cups fundraising campaign has received monumental support from the community, already exceeding her original goal of $50,000.
“I knew we had the best customers in the world, and they have shown up in such a huge way,” she said. “People want to help out, and they want to see and do good.”
Save the Cups was inspired by Tanner’s own journey of illness, recovery and triumph. In 2009, she was diagnosed with a rare, fast-growing form of breast cancer that did not respond to chemotherapy or radiation. Surgery was the only option.
Although the mass was successfully removed and doctors declared Tanner cancer-free, she now faced medical bills adding up to tens of thousands of dollars. With no health insurance and limited savings, she applied for a program at Dixie Regional Medical Center where donors covered the debts of cancer patients who demonstrated financial need. Ultimately, she paid just $100.
Tanner was 37 when she was diagnosed, three years before the recommended age for women to begin receiving annual mammograms. She underwent a mammogram at the urging of a close friend whom she credits with saving her life.
Only a year later, Tanner and her husband opened the first Swig location a few blocks away from Dixie State University in St. George. Now she’s paying it forward by giving directly to others in need. All of the money raised during Save the Cups will be donated to women in Utah undergoing breast cancer removal surgery.
Initially, the goal was to fund cancer removal surgery for three or four women with $50,000. That benchmark was surpassed in less than two weeks, Tanner said, and she’s now looking to raise $100,000 by the end of October.
Customers can participate in Save the Cups at any of Swig’s 23 locations across Utah and Arizona, including three in St. George:
- Tabernacle, 989 E. Tabernacle St.
- Boulevard, 287 W. St. George Blvd.
- Dinosaur Crossing, 553 S. Mall Drive.
Choose from “The Founder” – Tanner’s signature combination of Diet Coke, sugar-free coconut syrup, fresh lime and coconut cream – or “The Fighter,” a pink-themed blend of water, sugar-free vanilla, peach and pineapple syrup, fresh lime and raspberry purée. $1 from either of these drink purchases in any size goes toward the cause.
Save the Cups stickers, available only in stores, each contribute $2. Swig is also selling Save the Cups T-shirts exclusively on their website for $25, $15 of which goes to the campaign. Additionally, customers can add a donation of any amount to their Swig orders or contribute directly online.
“This is a cause where even $1 actually helps,” said Shauna Smith, president of Swig’s parent company Savory Management. “It’s been crazy to see how everyone just giving a little is adding up to so much.”
The success of this campaign is a bright spot in what has been a challenging year for many, Smith said, adding that Save the Cups offers Swig customers an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women in their own communities.
“That to me is the way that we can all give, because I don’t know that we all have a lot to give right now,” she said.
Swig has partnered with Utah Surgical Associates and Valley Women’s Health to identify women struggling with the financial burden of breast cancer treatment. Once all the donations have been tallied and divided up, Tanner will surprise several lucky recipients with a check.
In light of its success, Tanner plans to make Save the Cups an annual tradition at Swig.
“It just warms my heart that we can help some women who are in a really tough spot,” she said. “Their families are struggling, and we can come in and help lift that load a little.”
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