Massage Envy fights breast cancer

A hands-on charitable effort like no other takes place Tuesday as Massage Envy in Glendale raises funds to fight breast cancer with Massage for the Cure.

This year marks the fifth time the Glendale shop will donate a portion of proceeds from every massage to the Los Angeles County affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

"Last year, I did 128 massages," Glendale shop owner Helen McDonagh said. "I'm hoping to beat it this year."

In 2009, massage therapists at McDonagh's clinic raised more than $1,900 with relaxation, prenatal, Swedish and other massages, donating $15 for each one-hour session. This year, McDonagh wants to host 150 clients and said that with all 12 massage rooms going every hour from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., she could reach as many as 168.

Massage for the Cure started in 2005 as one of the Komen foundation's fundraisers, the best-known of which are the 26-mile and 39-mile Race for the Cure events. McDonagh said John Leonisio, founder of the Massage Envy chain, launched Massage for the Cure.

"John came up with the inspiration," McDonagh said."Most of his clients were women, and he wanted to give back to a charity that affects women."

More than 600 Massage Envy locations in 42 states participate. Massage for the Cure has raised more than $1.4 million for breast cancer research and community health programs, according to the Komen foundation.

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world, with roughly 1.3 million people diagnosed each year. McDonagh said many Massage for the Cure participants are familiar with the disease.

"My mother is a breast cancer survivor," McDonagh said. "I have had three sisters who have had cancer. Many of our clients and staff are affected by breast cancer."

On Tuesday, Massage Envy will donate $15 from every $49 massage to the Los Angeles County affiliate of the foundation. McDonagh asks that clients book in advance by calling (818) 246-3689, and that they indicate what sort of massage or treatment they would prefer.

Last year, nearby businesses such as Damon's and Porto's Bakery got into the act by donating food and drinks.

"Staff were so into it," she said. "It actually got other businesses excited."

The effort is also good for her Brand Boulevard business, she added.

"Last year, I would say about 90 of the Massage for the Cure clients were people who had never been to my location before, and that is great as a business owner," McDonagh said.

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