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WRIST ACTION Bracelets bring in the bucks



Published: Wed, January 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Wearing a bracelet to express yourself has become the thing to do.

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

The rubber is hitting the wrist. Hard.

Modeled after the ubiquitous yellow Lance Armstrong "LIVESTRONG" rubber wristband that supports cancer research, charities across the country are selling spinoff bracelets. And many can't keep up with demand:

Two teens selling $5 blue bracelets to aid the New York hospital that treats their juvenile diabetes sold 10,000 in four weeks.

Children With Diabetes ran out of their $5 red bracelets, recently back-ordering 10,000.

Even Target temporarily sold out of a pink band it sells online to support breast cancer research.

"It's almost like the spread of a virus," says Dr. Daniel Howard, who chairs the marketing department at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. "It's the thing to do, to wear a bracelet to express yourself, your causes, your beliefs."

Experts say the fad combines a hip fashion statement with the goodness of giving to charity -- which has, itself, become hip.

Unexpected

"Every now and again, one of these things will happen, and nobody quite expects it," says Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University.

He compares the fad to knotted friendship bracelets in the mid-'90s, prisoner-of-war bracelets during Vietnam and ID-tag bracelet exchanges for anyone who went steady in the mid-'70s.

The bracelets are expanding far beyond illnesses.

A student at New York's Manhattanville College launched an adopt-a-soldier campaign with a "starter kit" that includes a red bracelet saying "MY SOLDIER." Austin-based Herobracelets.org offers another military option, selling $7 aluminum bands engraved with the name of a solider killed in Iraq.

A student group at Yavneh Academy IN Dallas sold 2,700 blue $3 bracelets in their first four days, supporting a camp in Israel for children with relatives killed by terrorists.

To the max

The Greater Dallas Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hopes to begin widespread sales in January of $2 orange bracelets saying "MAX-LIFE." The brainchild of a St. Louis couple whose son, Max Rowe, has the disease, the initial run of 5,000 sold out before the first shipment arrived. Now more than 200,000 have sold.

And the buyers keep coming. Sixteen-year-old Carolyn Comer of Dallas says she was one of the last people at Ursuline Academy to get a LIVESTRONG bracelet. She also wears one for leukemia research and another from a local school.

"They're cool to look at, and they're a symbol for something," she says. "I never take them off."




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