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Penney Laingen, wife of a hostage in Iran, was the first one to use the medium of a yellow-colored ribbon to create awareness and send out a message. She tied yellow ribbon around trees to illustrate her desire to see her husband again. Awareness ribbons show support and bring public attention to specific causes and issues. They each have a meaning associated to its color. Some colors have several meanings as they support several causes.

Red: Aids, HIV, heart disease, substance abuse, pro-life, MADD (mothers against drunk driving), DARE (drug abuse resistance education), Evans syndrome, stroke.

Pink: Breast cancer, birth parents, cleft palate, nursing mothers.

White: Right to life, victims of terrorism, anti-child pornography, holocaust remembrance, child exploitation, bone cancer, child exploitation.

Yellow: Missing children, adoptive parents, liver disease, bladder cancer, bone cancer.

Black: Mourning, melanoma awareness, gun controls, anti-terrorism in Spain, anti-gang.

Orange: Cultural diversity, motorcycle safety awareness, leukemia, reflex sympathitic dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Prader-Willi syndrome, hunger.

Brown: Colon cancer and an anti-tobacco symbol.

Green: Tissue or organ donation, environmental concerns, kidney cancer, childhood depression, mental retardation, mental illness, missing children, cerebral palsy, homeopathy, worker safety, driving safety.

Gold: Childhood cancer, COPD and breast feeding.

Lace: A symbol for Osteoporosis

Burgundy: Brain aneurysm, cesarean section, hemangioma, vascular malformation, hospice care, multiple myeloma, William's syndrome, adults with disabilities, post-polio syndrome.

Purple: Homelessness, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, ADD, religious tolerance, animal abuse, suicide prevention, lupus, the victims of 9/11 including the police and firefighters.

Gray: Allergies, brain tumor, diabetes, disabled children, sex slavery.

Dark Blue: Child abuse prevention, colon cancer, victim's rights, free speech, water quality and water safety, arthritis, prostate cancer awareness.

Teal: Ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers, sexual assault, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and tsunami victims.

Silver: Brain disorders, Parkinson's disease, elderly abuse, and stalking.

Lavender: Epilepsy, Rett syndrome, foster care for foster parents.

Pearl: Native American reparations, lung cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

Periwinkle: Eating disorders, pulmonary hypertension, stomach cancer, and GERD.

Jigsaw Puzzle: A symbol for autism and Asperger's syndrome.

Red and White: Bone Marrow Failure - Aplastic Anemia MDS.

Black and Gold: Platelet Donor.

Blue and Silver: Living and coping with cancer.

Gold and Silver: All hearing and ear disorders.

Rainbow: A symbol of gay pride and support for the GLBT community and their quest for equal right.

Pink and Blue: Miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death due to SIDS or other causes, and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

Red, White, and Blue Ribbon: Flag, National Support, Patriotism, 9/11 heroes and victims.

Pink and Teal Ribbon: A symbol for hereditary breast cancer.

Red and Yellow: A symbol of Hepatitis C virus

Blue and Yellow: Down Syndrome and the Hero campaign - designated driver.

Orchid and Orange: A symbol for Psoriasis

Purple and Blue: Rheumatoid arthritis, and pediatric stroke.

Ribbon colors are used to help raise awareness about many social causes. Most of them are associated with these colors for all times, while some are periodic; i.e only for a short span, or till the project is completed.