Meet Irma Slimko: A Model of Courage

By Eve P.

“Life is all about choices, even during sorrow. Every morning that you wake up, you can choose to make a new one if the old one isn't working!” That’s one of the life lessons Irma Slimko has focused on since her diagnosis, treatment and recovery from breast cancer. For Irma, Ford retiree and a 2-year participant in the Warriors in Pink Model of Courage program, every month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Models of Courage program is just one of the ways that Warriors in Pink brings to light the real life stories of breast cancer survivors.

Irma knows that breast cancer strikes any day of the week, any week of the month and any month of the year. And it touches all of us. Breast cancer does not discriminate. According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, experts estimate that about one out of every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life.

“Ford totally had my back during my challenges with breast cancer. They hired a contract person for my position until I was well enough to return to work,” explained Irma. “Being a single mother, it was an incredible relief knowing that my job was secure and I could concentrate on winning my battle against breast cancer.” Having the support and understanding of friends, family and Ford made all the difference for Irma, saying “It’s like being reborn, only this time with some wisdom and experience. I don’t think there is a morning that I don’t wake up giving thanks and the utmost appreciation for being among the survivors.”

How does a single mother go from Ford employee to Model of Courage? Irma answered a casting call by Ford Warriors in Pink in the spring of 2012. Ford was looking for survivors to be part of its 2012 Warriors in Pink Models of Courage program to help promote its apparel and accessories benefiting the fight against breast cancer. “Never in my wildest dreams thinking I would actually be chosen,” Irma laughed. We can’t imagine them picking a better person.

Since then it has been “quite an experience and an honor to be included on this journey with Ford Warriors in Pink for the 2012 and 2013 Models of Courage campaign. It’s extremely rewarding to bring awareness to such a large audience and to be part of the fundraising effort for continued research to finally eradicate breast cancer” said Irma. “Participation has been amazing in so many different ways, particularly for me crossing paths with a host of very talented, creative, dedicated and compassionate people during a variety of events, photo shoots and personal appearances.” Another bonus - meeting and working with the 10 other amazing Models of Courage. They’ve become part of Irma’s extended family; Irma is still close to the woman who mentored her when she became a Model of Courage.

Ford Warriors in Pink is active in the fight against breast cancer 24/7/365, by helping to bring awareness to the cause, with the Models in Courage program, and with the sale of Warrior in Pink apparel and accessories for women, men and children. One hundred percent of the net proceeds of Warrior in Pink merchandise go to breast cancer charities like The Pink Fund, Susan G. Komen®, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Young Survival Coalition. Warriors in Pink wear and gear has become a staple in Irma Irma’s wardrobe, “for the symbolism that they stand for and because the items are so comfortable and creative with colorful designs.”

For 19 years, Ford has been committed to this important cause, dedicating more $120 million to the fight. Visit to find out more about Warriors in Pink and how you can join Ford in the fight against breast cancer.

As Irma says, “Always celebrate life!”