Buying a band T-shirt is generally a simple act: You like the band, you buy the shirt. Shirts For A Cure takes it to another level. You like the band, you buy the shirt — and you strike a blow against breast cancer.
SFAC is the brainchild of punk-rock photographer Mark Beemer, whose wife died from the disease in 2002. He founded the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment (SSE), named after her, to offer financial assistance to women who can’t afford breast cancer medicine or therapy.
“When my wife passed away, I was too young to know what to do in the face of this devastating blow,” Beemer says. “Being a punk-rock kid, I decided I wanted to change the world, and I asked friends to donate a shirt design to see if I could create an endowment in her name.”
One band jumped on, then another, including major acts like Thrice, Rise Against, Killswitch Engage, Alkaline Trio, and My Chemical Romance. Their shirt designs were exclusive to SFAC, and suddenly Beemer had a serious venture on his hands.
“Within a year, it eclipsed my life — in a good way,” he says. “A lot of those bands were on the brink of becoming stadium-filling acts. Their participation helped us raise millions, which we dispensed to clinics around the country.”
Beemer has since expanded the collection to include comedians and other players in the entertainment world, with more than 150 shirt options, plus cuffs and accessories emblazoned with slogans such as “fuck cancer.” Acts can submit their own design, or Beemer will do it for them.
He sets up a sales table at events like Comic-Con, and he sells them online. Most of the shirts are $14 (plus shipping and handling), giving fans an easy way to help someone in need and get a sweet tee in return.