“I'm a four-month survivor; my mom is a nine-year survivor,” Spencer said.
They strung pink ribbons, decorated with flowers and stars and words of encouragement created by children in the Detroit area, on wire and secured them to the trees with the help of their husbands, children, friends and city officials.
“I would like to thank you all for not only joining us tonight, but supporting our cause — ending breast cancer forever,” Ashlee Baracy said. “We are many steps closer to our vision of a world without breast cancer, but people are still dying from the disease and that is truly unacceptable.”
A former Miss Michigan who made breast cancer awareness her platform, Baracy co-founded the month-long event with Jim and Jocelyn Kollar of Alleycat Designs and the breast cancer fund-raising Web site imaboobist.com. Throughout October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, businesses and organizations in the community will be conducting events aimed at raising money for the Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure.
Restaurants like Famous Dave's, Leo's Coney Island, Buffalo Wild Wings, Texas Road House, Max & Erma's and Applebee's will be donating a percentage of sales on specific days during the month.
In addition to good eating, money will be raised through a bottle and can drive by students at the Encore Dance Academy, and by opening new checking accounts at Flagstar Bank and buying Resist carpeting at Independent Carpet One.
There also will be a free concert, featuring Yankeeville and The Scott Martin Band, Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Performance Pavilion behind the William P. Faust Public Library.
The Kollars and Baracy came up with the idea of a fund-raiser residents could afford while supporting local business. They rounded up sponsoring businesses, including Garden City Hospital, Westland Rotary, Westland Jaycees, the Westland Chamber of Commerce and Co-Op Credit Union Services to name a few.
“The businesses have been phenomenal,” Kollar said. “Just about everyone I went to said yes. They made it easy work for me. Everything we received we got for free. The community came out in a big way.”
Information can be found on the Painting the Town Pink Web site at www.paintingthetownpink.org.
While the money raised this year is going for the Race for the Cure, Kollar and Baracy are looking into forming a foundation that among other things could help with the education of children of parents who have breast cancer. They're working with Garden City Hospital to help women who can't afford to pay for a mammogram.
“We're excited about the possibilities we can do with this,” Kollar said.
Baracy told the crowd that hearing that her mother had breast cancer left her with an “empty, hopeless feeling that no one should ever have to experience.” It also gave her a mission to eradicate the disease. She credited fund-raising events like Painting the Town Pink in providing money for research that created a treatment that saved her mother's life.
Spencer need only look at her mother to understand what fund-raising has done for the treatment of the disease. Maiorane is a two-time survivor. She was 38 years old when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and treatment and was cancer-free for 16 years before the cancer returned.
“It came back, but it was a different cancer in the same breast,” she said, adding that she has been cancer-free this time for nine years.
Because of a history of breast cancer in the family, her daughter had genetic testing, which came back negative for breast cancer. Four months ago, however, a mammogram and ultrasound turned up suspicious cells. An MRI confirmed they were precancerous cells.
“Because it was detected early, I didn't have to have radiation and chemo,” Spencer said. “I had a lumpectony, but then chose to have a mastectomy.”
With the support of people like Maiorane and Spencer and an interest already being expressed to expand Painting the Town Pink to Garden City next year, Kollar is “excited about the possibilities we can do with this.”
“I'm just hoping this thing explodes,” he added.
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Source: Observer & Eccentric Newspapers and Hometown Weeklies