Build For a Cure house in progress in River Run community

DAVIDSON ­ ­– Officials grabbed pink hats and shovels to celebrate a new construction project geared toward helping spread breast cancer awareness.

E.S. Johnson Builders held a groundbreaking event at its worksite in the River Run community on Aug. 26 to announce the fifth project for the Build For the Cure charity, benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The Davidson company, led by Eric Johnson, will construct the home using many donated materials. Once complete, the Komen Foundation Charlotte Affiliate can use the property for a fundraising event, a place to distribute information and offer tours or other activities for a few weeks before it is sold. Money is also donated to them.

Eric Johnson, a Cornelius resident, started Build For a Cure in 2008.

At the time, all nine employees at his office knew a family member who at one time had breast cancer or who had died from it. For Johnson, it was in memory of his grandmother, Irene Johnson.

“I founded Build For a Cure in 2008 to raise awareness about early detection,” Johnson said. “We wanted to raise funds and awareness for the Susan G. Komen Charlotte affiliate.”

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has raised millions of dollars, distributed among agencies to offer free mammograms and other breast heather services to underinsured and uninsured people. Also, 25 percent of the money raised by the foundation helps pay for breast cancer research.

Susan G. Komen Charlotte Affiliate Board President Park Williams and Megan Brandenburg, Komen communications and events coordinator for the Charlotte, were happy to be a part of the celebration.

“This is a visual representation and a way to spread awareness about the disease,” Brandenburg said of the home-building project.

Vendors and subcontractors, both local and national, have donated time and resources to help. Pella donated windows and KitchenAid gave appliances.

“It’s a disease that’s touched so many different people,” Johnson said. “Our vendors have such a close relationship with us, they asked to donate to it and be a part.”

One of those is Matthew Gibson, owner of Gibson’s Electrical and Lighting.

“My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago,” he said. “Anytime you hear the ‘c-word,’ it rattles the cage. She is now completely cancer free and in remission. I saw this, and since I’m the electrician for all of his other projects, I thought it was awesome. It’s an opportunity to offer publicity for Susan G. Komen and raise money.”

Mike Laruffa, president of builders’ services for River Run, said the disease has touched too many people and is glad this is in the neighborhood.

“Projects like this show the builder and developer giving back to the community  and show it’s more than making profits,” he said.

Davidson Mayor John Woods agreed, hoping this would motivate others to find a way to give back through their jobs.

Johnson has completed two Build For the Cure homes in south Charlotte and Fort Mill. A friend and fellow developer in Florida has expanded the efforts and constructed two others in Palm Beach.