Virtually everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. Mary Kay Ash's personal encounter came in 1980 when her husband, Mel Ash, died of lung cancer. Subsequently, each time a member of the extended Mary Kay family was diagnosed with cancer, she became even more determined to work to find a cure.
In 1987, Mary Kay decided to put her money where her heart was and asked employees at Mary Kay Inc. and the independent sales force to do the same. Together, they began raising funds for cancer research, and in 1996, the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation was established to formalize the raising and distributing of research funds for cancers affecting women. In 2009, the name of the Foundation was changed to The Mary Kay Foundation.
Mary Kay Ash cared about all issues affecting women, and she knew domestic violence was a problem in the community. She began to hear how prevalently this issue affected the Mary Kay Inc. independent sales force across the nation. So in July 2000, The Foundation embraced a second mission: to prevent violence against women.