For the second year, Phoenixville will be “painted pink” in support of cancer patients, survivors and their families.
Throughout October, many organizations in Phoenixville are focusing on raising awareness and attempting to directly benefit those going through the toughest fight of their lives.
“Words can not explain how wonderful and supported I feel around this event,” said Robin Heist, a cancer survivor and the “Breast Care Navigator” at Phoenixville Hospital. “I have been involved in so many patients’ journeys with breast cancer that it feels awesome to see everyone coming together and just having fun.”
Heist is one of the co-chairpersons in charge of October’s events.
Unofficially, Phoenixville’s festivities began Tuesday night with Renaissance Academy’s “Dig Pink” volleyball match. The Knights wore pink uniforms to commemorate the beginning of the month as they took on Woodlynde School.
Senior Tamara Ellis partnered with the Side-Out Foundation, which has a “Dig Pink” campaign, to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research.
“I’ve been wanting to run a pink match for many years,” said Renaissance Academy’s coach, Holly Mandia. “I’ve always felt that women/girls athletes need to lead by strong example and as this is a women’s health (issue), need to be actively involved.”
Ellis took charge of the event in memory of her aunt who died two years ago following a seven-year battle with breast cancer.
The players and school raised money for the uniforms, Mandia said. Donation boxes for cancer research will be in the lobby.
Phoenixville’s first official Paint the Town Pink event will take place during the regularly-scheduled First Friday.
Many businesses and restaurants regularly take part in the monthly First Fridays on Bridge Street, but October’s is dedicated to cancer awareness.
Money raised through the various Paint the Town Pink events will go toward the Phoenixville Healthcare Access Foundation, which will fund free mammograms for Phoenixville area residents, and For Pete’s Sake, a foundation which provides “respite vacations” for those with cancer and their families.
Mark Cunningham, another co-chairperson involved with planning Paint the Town Pink, survived tongue and neck cancer. He benefited on such a vacation with his family.
“I didn’t know we needed a trip,” he said. “My family didn’t know we need the trip. But (cancer) affects the family a lot more than the person with cancer.”
The trip was “the first time I felt normal since I got diagnosed with cancer,” he said.
First Friday’s events will center around the parking lot at Bridge and Main streets where basket raffles, jewelry sales and a 50/50 raffle will all benefit the cause.
A special kids section will also be available including art, chalk and face painting.
Additionally, a “Tribute Wall” will be established to post cards in memory of those who died, in support of those currently fighting, or simply declaring victory over the disease as a survivor.
During that day, in all Phoenixville Area School District schools, students will hold a pink-out to show their support, as well, according to district spokeswoman Sandy Claus.
At the end of October, Paint the Town Pink’s focus shifts to athletics.
The Phoenixville Area High School football team will hold its annual “Play for the Cure” game at Washington Field when they take on Upper Perkiomen Friday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.
Like the Renaissance Academy event, players will don pink uniforms and honor patients and survivors.
Earlier in the month, the Pottsgrove High School Football team will also hold a Play for the Cure game wearing special uniforms.
Last month, coach Rick Pennypacker said the game benefitting cancer holds a “special” place for him because his parents both died of cancer.
Then, Oct. 27, a color 5K run/1K walk, which has been Cunningham’s focus, is scheduled to cap off the month.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Phoenixville Area High School, which serves as the start and end of the race.
The color run, which features runners getting splashed or doused with paint as they move through the course, begins at 9 a.m.
Students register for $15 and adults’ fees are $25. Any kids are free.