Suits and sneakers raise cancer awareness

By Christina Ramey

 INDIANAPOLIS – On a regular day at the Statehouse, Rep. Shelia Klinker, D-Lafayette, wears professional shoes but Tuesday, she could be seen walking the halls in blue sneakers with red and white stripes.

That’s because it was Suits and Sneakers Day where lawmakers and government employees are encouraged to wear tennis shoes with their professional attire to raise awareness about cancer. The Cancer Action Network organized the event and rally.

Rep. Shelia Klinker, D-Lafayette, shows off her high-heeled sneakers for Suit and Sneaker day. Photo by Christina Ramey,

For Klinker, the event is personal. She lost her 83-year-old mother to ovarian cancer.

“Fortunately, today it’s a cancer that is treated much better then it we used to treat it,” Klinker said.

Klinker talked about how it helps when people who have dealt with cancer come forward and talk to people because it encourages others to be aware of the symptoms and see a doctor.

“It helps women become aware, and men, too,” Klinker said.

“Each year when we are in the Statehouse we consider it to be our suit and sneaker day,” said Bryan Hannon, government relations director for the Cancer Action Network. “And we invite lawmakers and their staff, executive staff, and the governor’s office to wear their sneakers with us just to raise awareness for cancer.”

The Suits and Sneakers event has been going on for about a decade and has grown as more lawmakers have joined in on the fun.

Rally attendees listen to the speakers at the Cancer Action Network Rally. Photo by Christina Ramey,

Several individuals used their platform at the rally to talk about why they were in support an increase in the tax on cigarettes, a major cause of cancer. The speakers included a former smoker and cancer survivor, a basketball coach and cancer survivor, and a nurse practitioner who is also a certified tobacco treatment specialist.

“Seventy percent of adults actually want to stop smoking,” said Annette McDaniel, a nurse practitioner and certified tobacco treatment specialist. “But it’s very addictive so many can’t.”

Those who attended the rally also met with lawmakers to talk about the cigarette tax increase and why they were in support of it.

“Preventing cancer isn’t just about our daily decisions that we make in the back of the office it’s also the decisions that our policy makers make,” Hannon said.

Christina Ramey is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.


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