Sprinkle Pink for Breast Cancer awareness in the Bitterroot Valley has expanded to the Colors of Cancer inspiring Blue and Gold team leaders to step forward to raise funds to battle childhood and colon cancers.
Gold team leader is Emmarita Skalsky at Evans Ace Hardware and Blue team leader is Justine Wagner at Naps Grill.
Skalsky said the support by Ace employees and customers has been great.
Ace employee Patrick Colver’s step-son, Gavin is now 13. At age 3, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a tumor found at stage four around his spine, heart and shoulders.
He was given a less than 15 percent chance of survival.
“He did survive and his mom told the doctor never mention the odds again,” Colver said. “Gavin endured an experimental treatment in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It is a pretty horrible thing to see but also, I’ve never seen so much courage in my life either.”
Colver described the five days of a treatment that sends modified mouse antibodies to attach to nerve receptors.
“It is very painful. It hurts to the point where he passes out, then they finish the treatment,” Colver said. “The next day, he voluntarily does it all over again - five days in a row. Gavin has had 13 rounds of chemo and seven rounds of heavy radiation. He’s looked death in the face and told it to go away.”
Colver describes the side effects from the chemo as “hearing loss 90 percent loss in one ear 50 percent in the other, stunted growth and lots of attitude.”
“For four years, from age 4-7, he was not around kids, just really smart adults,” Colver said. “He’s a ball of fire in eighth grade at Hamilton Middle school. He was diagnosed at age 3. How fair is that? That’s my motivation to help ACE be gold. Childhood cancer is such a terrible thing and whatever I can to do bring awareness to it I’ll do.”
The fundraiser at Ace is an expanding gold paper chain and gold chains for the employees to wear. Customers can buy a paper chain link for $1 and write a name on it in October, after hearing the story most of the links have Gavin’s name.
On Oct. 16 the count was 1,453.
“Our goal is 2,500,” Skalsky said. “The main store has four times as many but here the chain starts at the garden center and goes all the way to the main door. We’ll connect with the main store.”
Ace employees are wearing gold to represent childhood cancer, some of the buttons and t-shirts they are wearing came from Gavin’s cancer party — he’ll be seven years cancer-free in November.
“When he hit five-years they called him in remission,” Colver said.
This weekend Ace is having a “round up” where they ask customers if they would donate their change to cancer relief. The amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar and donated to fight Childhood Cancer.
The store will have fun and festivities promoting the Colors of Cancer Campaign from 1 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 27, at 714 N. 1st St., in Hamilton. Cal Ruark, long-time supporter of Tough Enough to Wear Pink and the Sprinkle Pink campaign, will bring his pink bull to the parking lot.
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Blue Team leaders Justine Wagner, Jill Deppel and Leslie Robinson are raising awareness of the importance of cancer screenings and colonoscopies and to honor those who have fought the battle with Colorectal Cancer.
Wagner said her choice to lead the team as the battle against colorectal cancer was personal.
“Three and a half years ago my mom passed away with colorectal cancer,” Wagner said. “She was diagnosed at stage 4 and suffered greatly the last year and a half of her life. My youngest brother is battling it now – he’s 53.”
The fundraiser for the Blue Team is a pint night 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday in October at Naps Grill. Naps donates a percentage of each sale.
Naps owner Tyler Gilder said his mom has breast cancer and he wanted to promote cancer awareness.
“I love working with Justine and when she came over and pitched this I thought it was the perfect fit for us, something that I could completely sympathize with,” Gilder said. “Any chance I get to help out in a cause like that of course I want to jump on board. It makes sense. It is a win-win.”
Steve Harte, bar manager, said the bar has seen more customers on Friday nights.
“We have brochures here and for a Friday night it has been a good deal,” he said.
“If it brings awareness to just one person that’s great,” Gilder said. “Hopefully it brings awareness to many, you try to reach as many people as possible. What a great time with all these sports on TV - baseball playoffs, NBA, NFL, hockey, we have five large screens.”
There are additional events to raise funds for Color of Cancer.
Bitterroot School of Cosmetology will donate all proceeds of services done 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26. Call 406-363-3355 to make an appointment.
Trainers at Bitterroot Crossfit have designed a Colors of Cancer Workout Fundraiser for members and friends from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 27.
The Turn and Burn Barrel Race, an annual tradition for competitive barrel racers across the West, has been organized by the Colors of Cancer Pink Team, survivor Jean Schurman. She hopes to increase awareness about the importance of preventative healthcare and mammogram screenings. Attend the event 9 a.m. to noon, at the Sapphire Event Center, Corvallis, on Sunday, Oct. 28.
All proceeds from the race will be donated to the Daly Hospital Foundation’s Colors of Cancer Fund.
Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital is matching all donations to Colors of Cancer in October.
For more information about upcoming events or making a donation visit mdmh.org.