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October is breast cancer awareness month in the United States. It is also the 30th anniversary of the promise Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. ­Komen for the Cure, made to her sister ­Susan Goodman Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36. Nancy promised to do everything in her power to end this terrible disease, and over the last three decades, she has built her organization into the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists.

Enormous progress has been made. Thirty­ years ago, the five-year survival rate when breast cancer was diagnosed before it spread beyond the breast was 74 percent. Today, that survival rate is 98 percent. Millions of lives have been saved, but there is still a lot of work to do. We still don’t know with any certainty what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it, and as a result, women (and men, it should be noted) continue to be diagnosed with this disease each day.

American Airlines has been a proud partner of Susan G. Komen for the Cure for more than a quarter of a century. Way back in 1983, we sponsored the first Race for the Cure, in Dallas. Today, we are Komen’s official airline and the first-ever Lifetime Promise Partner, having pledged to raise a minimum of $1 million a year for eight years, with most of that money going to fund a study of inflammatory breast cancer (the most lethal form of the disease) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. As part of our fundraising, this month our Admirals Clubs are offering a special menu, from which 10 percent of the sales of cookies, beverages and other items will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For the past two years, eight AA and American Eagle aircraft have been adorned with fuselage-length versions of Komen’s iconic pink-ribbon symbol. These planes, which remind us that an estimated one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, are helping to build awareness of the disease from the heartland of the U.S. to the major cities of Europe, Asia and Latin America.

While flying billboards are nice, as with all the worthy causes we support it is the passion and engagement of our team that make the most difference. This month, employees from across our network joined Passionately Pink for the Cure, forming teams and challenging their colleagues to see which team can raise the most funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can support any of our AA teams at ­Passionatelypink.org. Of course, another way you can join the fight against breast cancer is to participate in one of the Komen Race for the Cure events taking place across the U.S. and around the world this month. For race locations, visit Komen.org. If you can’t make it to a race, you can also make a donation through our Miles for the Cure program. All contributors through the end of the year will receive double AAdvantage miles (10 miles for every dollar donated), with a $25 minimum. Contributing is a snap: Just visit AA.com/joinus. While there, you can also learn about a range of other worthy causes we support.

Last month, Nancy Brinker’s new book, Promise Me, was published. It’s the story of how Nancy’s vow to her dying sister launched a mission to change how we think about, talk about and treat a disease that, despite all the progress that’s been made, still claims far too many of our mothers, sisters and daughters. Nancy’s touring the U.S. this month and next to talk about the book, and I hope you will watch for her. More important, I hope you will join us in supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Together I believe we can create a world without breast cancer.

Thank you for your support and, of course, for flying on American Airlines.

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Gerard J. Arpey
American Airlines