CharlotteObserver.com:

Mike Gibbons took the stage and started his pitch. “These photo buttons,” he said, pinning one to his lapel, “are going to be the new fundraising tool.”

His company, Buttons of Hope, is an Internet button retailer meant to support loved ones in charity events, sports teams, the search for missing persons and other causes.

Buttons of Hope was born about five years ago when Gibbons and his wife signed up for a charity bicycle ride. Gibbons dedicated the ride to a cousin battling cancer.

Soon after, he had an idea: make a button with his cousin’s photo, to put a face on his fundraising. The concept became Buttons of Hope.

Gibbons, 47, a Realtor and former salesman, poured about $50,000 into the company, buying equipment and developing a Web site where customers can upload a photo, add text and purchase one or more buttons.

Photo by Buttons of Hope.