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Square turns pink with supporters

LaGRANGE — Saturday’s Paint the Town Pink and H.O.P.E. for a Day walk brought hundreds of people to Lafayette Square for the annual events.

The H.O.P.E. for a Day walk kicked off the day. It was the seventh annual walk, which started in 2009.

Pam Herndon is one of the original founders of H.O.P.E. for a Day, and the event helps her honor her sister Jeannie Carson who battled breast cancer for seven years. She passed away from the disease in 2005.

“I watched her suffer,” Herndon said as she wept. “I did the Atlanta Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk and it raised a lot of money for research. But none of that money would help my sister with her everyday needs in her daily life.”

Herndon and Tammy Neese, whom she met at the Atlanta event, decided to form a walk of their own that would benefit women in LaGrange.

The money raised during H.O.P.E. for a Day, which also stands for Helping Other People Endure, fills in the financial gaps for breast cancer patients and women in need of medical services. The funds are given to the Breast Friends For Life organization who then distribute the money.

“Some of the money goes to District 4 Health because a lot more young women are being diagnosed with the disease, but may not have the money or insurance to go see a doctor,” Herndon explained. “We can send someone to the health department and they can do a breast exam. Then, if needed, a mammogram. Then, if needed, a biopsy.

“Your chances of survival are better if they (doctors) find the cancer at stage one,” she continued. “We have people that are 32 year breast cancer survivors because it was detected early.”

That was not the case for Herndon’s sister.

“When Jeannie found her tumor she thought it was just a cyst because my mom had some fibrous tumors (benign breast tissue),” Herndon stated. She waited to see someone for a year and a half … by then the tumor was the size of a lemon and it was diagnosed at stage three (breast cancer).”

In honor of her sister, Herndon named her team, “Jeannie’s Wings Beneath Our Feet.”

Herndon was the chairperson of the Hope For A Day walk since it began, but decided to step down this year. Instead walkers will find her working one of the “breast stops” along the 10 mile journey around the city. She’ll be handing out food, drinks and encouragement to all the participants.

“It thrills my heart to see that LaGrange has embraced this walk so greatly … more than I could have ever imagine,” she said.

As the walkers completed their route on Saturday, they were welcomed downtown by Paint the Town Pink attendees who handed them balloons and pink roses. After a final lap around Lafayette Square, they gathered at a stage where LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton greeted them and thanked all attendees for helping raise awareness and hope.

“Just look around, look around at the pink, look around at the people who have come out for this occasion,” Thornton told attendees. “… That’s what it’s about, inspiring people to be hopeful, to be in prayer, to support medical researchers, to raise money for medical research, because we are hopeful for a cure for cancer in our lifetimes.”

The mayor also noted the event helps raise awareness of all cancers.

“This is about breast cancer, but by bringing awareness to our community that people can come together – can rally together and inspire hope and survivors, family that have lost family members and friends – we are raising awareness not just for breast cancer, but for all cancers in our community,” Thornton told the crowd. “And that is something I think you should celebrate.”

Breast cancer survivors release balloons Saturday on Lafayette Square during a ceremony at the end of the annual H.O.P.E. for a Day walk.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP02.jpgBreast cancer survivors release balloons Saturday on Lafayette Square during a ceremony at the end of the annual H.O.P.E. for a Day walk. Matthew Strother | Daily News
Nigel Walker sings a song about the Paint the Town Pink event and H.O.P.E. for a Day walk Saturday on Lafayette Square.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP03.jpgNigel Walker sings a song about the Paint the Town Pink event and H.O.P.E. for a Day walk Saturday on Lafayette Square. Matthew Strother | Daily News
LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton addresses the pink-clad crowd on Lafayette Square for Paint the Town Pink on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP04.jpgLaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton addresses the pink-clad crowd on Lafayette Square for Paint the Town Pink on Saturday. Matthew Strother | Daily News
H.O.P.E. for a Day walkers receive pink balloons and roses as they arrive at Lafayette Square on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP05.jpgH.O.P.E. for a Day walkers receive pink balloons and roses as they arrive at Lafayette Square on Saturday. Matthew Strother | Daily News
Dancers with Celtic Traditions perform Saturday for attendees of Paint the Town Pink on Lafayette Square.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP06.jpgDancers with Celtic Traditions perform Saturday for attendees of Paint the Town Pink on Lafayette Square. Matthew Strother | Daily News
People in the crowd on Lafayette Square on Saturday wave their hands along with Nigel Walker’s song about the Paint the Town Pink event.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP07.jpgPeople in the crowd on Lafayette Square on Saturday wave their hands along with Nigel Walker’s song about the Paint the Town Pink event. Matthew Strother | Daily News
A man takes pictures of attendees to Paint the Town Pink event as they watch speakers for the end of the H.O.P.E. for a Day event.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP08.jpgA man takes pictures of attendees to Paint the Town Pink event as they watch speakers for the end of the H.O.P.E. for a Day event. Matthew Strother | Daily News
H.O.P.E. for a Day walk participants end their walk at Lafayette Square on Saturday surrounded by attendees to the annual Paint the Town Pink.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_web0926PPTP01.jpgH.O.P.E. for a Day walk participants end their walk at Lafayette Square on Saturday surrounded by attendees to the annual Paint the Town Pink. Matthew Strother | Daily News
Breast cancer awareness event shows community support

By Melanie Ruberti

and Matthew Strother

Daily News staff

Reach the LaGrange Daily News at 706-884-7311.