Updated: Paint the Town Pink has ‘by far, best turnout ever’

Matthew Strother News editor

September 30, 2013

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people crowded Lafayette Square Saturday morning, mostly wearing pink.

The eighth annual Paint the Town Pink event on the square brought people out to show support for breast cancer research and survivors.

“We’re out here to support the cause and bring awareness for the need for early detection (of breast cancer),” said Sharon Williams, manager of business and patient relations for Emory Clark-Holder Clinic. “With early detection, it’s easier to treat. So we’re reminding ladies to get mammograms.”

Teresa Bain of Emory Clark-Holder Clinic risk management clinical services noted that the clinic has a new oncology center to treat cancer patients. Emory was one of several medical businesses at the event, all promoting breast cancer awareness.

Dr. Wassim McHayleh, West Georgia Health Physicians newest oncologist, said he was thrilled with the turnout to the event.

“This is a great day, I’m amazed. I never expected it to be like this,” he said. “It’s just amazing, and it reinforces that it was the right decision for me to come here.”

McHayleh said the small-town support system he’s seen at work in LaGrange helps promote the message of early detection and moral support for survivors and fighters.

“That’s the value of a small town, people willing to come together to fight together and learn together,” he said.

Wanda Lowe – West Georgia Health navigator, RN, member of Breast Friends for Life, 12-year cancer survivor and organizer of Paint the Town Pink – said all the people coming out to the event for the eighth year showed that “we have a fabulous community.”

LaGrange Mayor Jeff Lukken, wearing a pink shirt, took to the stage and spoke to the crowd gathered on the square Saturday

“Real men wear pink,” he yelled, eliciting cheers from those gathered. “Only in LaGrange, Troup County, could we pull off something like this. By far, this is the best one ever.”

Lukken thanked Breast Friends for Life organizers like Pam Herndon and Lowe, along with all the volunteers for the day’s events, businesses that contributed and those who collectively raised more than $10,000 in contributions to breast cancer examinations and services.

“Congratulations to all of you,” he said. “You are America’s greatest support team.”

Herndon closed the event by telling survivors that they all are “overcomers.”

“An overcomer is a warrior who can battle no matter what is before them,” she said. “The true definition of an overcomer is one who has hope.”

The event closed with Herndon asking the hundreds of participants to release white balloons, a sign for breast cancer awareness.

All together, Saturday’s events raised $120,000 for local breast cancer treatment and awareness initiatives.