WEIRTON - In a season that lends itself to fall colors such as orange, yellow and burgundy, Weirton has its sights set on pink instead.
And it looks to "Paint the Town Pink," a theme being embraced throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In light of that, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., Athena's Closet and the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program are partnering to sponsor "Paint the Town Pink" - a breast cancer awareness effort that will be demonstrated in two highly visible ways.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., Athena’s Closet and the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program have partnered to sponsor “Paint the Town Pink” during the month of October. There will be a breast cancer awareness walk set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in the C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. parking lot located at 3136 West St., Weirton. Registration gets under way at 5 p.m. Funds that Athena’s Closet generates from walkers registering helps local cancer patients with expenses not covered through insurance, while funds that C.H.A.N.G.E. generates benefit the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund. In the top photo, Weirton Mayor George Kondik, center, gets a pretend coat of pink paint to get in the spirit of things, courtesy of representatives of Athena’s Closet, from left, Patti Blanc, board of directors; Loretta Lescallette, Athena’s Closet president; and Marie Fazalare and Maria Kiefer, both on the board of directors.
-- Janice Kiaski
In a show of support for the upcoming walk and monthlong observance, the city of Weirton, the Downtown Business Association, city of Weirton Fire Department representatives and Mayor George Kondik, standing back center, recently gathered, including, from left, front, Angelina Dickson, Brenda Mull, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc. director Judy Raveaux, Patti Blanc, Maria Keifer, Marie Fazalare, Dawn Ohalek, Loretta Lescallette, Debbie Javage, Millicent Zack and Miki Marino and back, Tom Maher, Downtown Business Association President Gus Monezis, Jerry Shumate, Michael Veltri, Jim Brueck, Rick Gutwalk, Mike Serafine, Adam Mills, Amedeo Mastrantoni, Drew Coates, Patty Biondillo and city Manager Valerie Means.
One will be a breast cancer awareness walk - "Walk for Women ... Take a Step Against Breast Cancer" - set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc.'s parking lot located at 3136 West St. Registration begins at 5 p.m. Walkers will proceed up West Street, down Taylor Avenue onto Main Street and end with refreshments served at the Cove Commons.
Participants can register to walk in support of either Athena's Closet, with the goal to help area cancer patients with expenses not covered by insurance, or through C.H.A.N.G.E. in support of the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.
Created by the W.Va. Legislature in 1996, the fund helps pay for diagnostic and limited treatment services for uninsured and underinsured West Virginia women who otherwise may not be able to afford breast and cervical cancer services, according to Judy Raveaux, chief executive officer of C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc.
The walk is intended to raise awareness of the need for breast cancer screening, to honor breast cancer survivors and to remember those who have died from the disease, according to Raveaux.
Athena's Closet was formed in 2000 to honor Athena Ameredes of Weirton, who died after a valiant battle with cancer, according to her friends who started the organization, including Loretta Lescallette, Patti Blanc, Marie Fazalare, Maria Kiefer and Georgianna Anetakis.
"This will be our 13th year to honor our friend," Fazalare said of its past tradition of having organized its own walk to raise awareness and funds. Money raised has helped hundreds of patients with pharmacy and medical bills, prosthetics, wigs and travel expenses for diagnosis and treatment and will continue to do so, they said, noting that includes not just women patients, but men, too.
Those who are unable to participate but would like to make a donation to the charity can make checks payable to Athena's Closet and mail to Athena's Closet, P.O. Box 3149, Weirton, WV 26062.
Support for the walk and monthlong observance also is being shown through the city of Weirton, the city of Weirton Fire Department and the Downtown Business Association.
"We want to continue to raise money and awareness while keeping the funds locally," said Blanc. "Our organization has been raising money for years and with a partner like C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., we are hoping to get a large turnout in support of this great cause."
Aside from the walk, another visible show of support will be the display of pink bows C.H.A.N.G.E. is providing DBA members who are being encouraged to not only showcase them in their storefront windows but to take the decorating to the next level, to "pink up your business" and raise awareness at the same time.
Door prizes for the best decorated will be judged by Mayor George Kondik, who noted "Paint the Town Pink" has evolved from "Paint the Downtown Pink."
"This year we are expanding and doing the entire city. Last year was a pilot program, and it was very successful, and this year's can be bigger and better. We welcome Athena's Closet as a part of it," Kondik said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)