Calories for a Cause

Except for a few liars out there who claim to hate sweets, everybody loves an excuse to eat dessert. And from now until the end of the month, there's a way to have your cake and contribute to an important cause, too. Breaking your diet is more than a treat, it's a good deed, if you indulge at one of 15 restaurants participating in the first annual Pink Platter, the latest fundraising campaign of the Pink Ribbons Project.

Breast cancer survivors and their supporters designed and painted almost 600 plates for this effort, and you can get one, plus dessert, for a minimum donation of $20. The proceeds go toward teaching breast cancer awareness and helping underprivileged women receive proper breast cancer screening and follow-up care.

"It took a lot of effort to do this," says Houston project director Susan Rafte, "but it's so worthwhile, because that's 600 people it touches."

Plates are selling better at some restaurants than others. Floridita, Arcodoro and Backstreet Café have already sold out. Even so, at all of the restaurants you'll still find special plates up for auction, hand-painted by mostly local artists. At Brasil, for instance, you can bid on a funky platter dotted with moveable eyes by The Art Guys, as long as you name your price before Halloween, the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Jane Weiner, Rafte's sister, founded the Pink Ribbons Project in New York with three friends seven years ago, while Rafte was undergoing treatment for the disease. They held a dance concert benefiting breast cancer research, and the project was born.

"I was feeling bad," Rafte says, recalling one of the worst moments of her illness, "and I said to Jane, I'm gonna get better, and we're gonna go do Pink Ribbons down in Houston."

The group now has offices in both New York and Houston and has raised a half million dollars to fight breast cancer.

Rafte herself designed eight dessert plates for Pink Platter. She didn't sign them, but you'll recognize them by their big pink ribbons and the words "faith, hope and courage." If you're lucky, maybe your donation will get you one of her designs -- plus, say, a molten chocolate brownie from the Raven Grill.

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Cathy Matusow
Contact: Cathy Matusow