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Go Pink Night raises breast-cancer awareness
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Go Pink Night

• What: A farmers market featuring female entertainers, health organizations and special guests to raise funds for local breast cancer treatment
• When:  4-8 p.m. Thursday
• Where: Bradwell Park and Commerce Street, downtown Hinesville

Hinesville Area Arts Council reception

• What: “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Little Pink Dress Party and exhibition
• When:  5:30-7 p.m. Thursday; exhibition open Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through Oct. 28
• Where: Hinesville Area Arts Council Gallery, 102 Commerce Street

From stilettos to squash sales and cotton candy, Thursday-night events in downtown Hinesville are aimed at drawing attention to a critical issue.
The Hinesville Downtown Farmers Market and Hinesville Area Arts Council will host concurrent events to raise funds and awareness for breast-cancer screenings, research and treatment in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” exhibit opens Thursday and will feature women’s shoes paired with messages aimed at increasing awareness for breast cancer and treatments.
The messages are courtesy of the Liberty County Health Department and Komen Coastal Georgia, a local affiliate of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, according to HAAC Chairwoman and exhibit curator Leah Poole.
Representatives from Komen, the health department, Liberty Regional Medical Center and Winn Army Community Hospital also will be on hand at the market with information about local health resources, according to HDDA program assistant Katrina Barrow.
Some market vendors will donate a portion of their proceeds to Komen, which grants funds back to the area.  
“The money that is raised will stay in Liberty County and will go toward women who need either mammograms or breast examinations,” Barrow said.
The event originally was planned for later in the month, but the HDDA decided to combine forces with the arts council when they learned about the common theme, Barrow said.
In celebration of the women who have triumphed over cancer, the arts council will host a pink-dress-themed opening reception from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday. It will include a professional dessert table designed by La Mesa Dulce.
“It seemed like a natural fit, women and shoes, and I know plenty of ladies with super-cool shoes …,” Poole said. “Having a shoe exhibit seemed like it would attract people — especially women— where we can offer reminders and needed education about breast cancer.
“My paternal grandmother died from breast cancer before I was born and a maternal aunt has had it twice. It means a lot to me personally to support educating people about breast cancer,” she said.
And it’s an issue that many can relate to.
Hinesville survivor Cathy Thomas was diagnosed in August 2006 and went through chemotherapy, radiation and a lumpectomy shortly after.
While she doesn’t say much about her first-hand experience, Thomas heralds early detection through mammograms.
“It was, at first, very, very scary …,” Thomas said. “It used to be a thing that if you got diagnosed with breast cancer, then you kind of just planned how long you’d last.”
When Thomas was diagnosed, research at the time featured five-year survival rates. Now, it shows five-year recurrence rates instead, which gives Thomas hope and should be a beacon to all women that cancer can be conquered.
Thomas’ daughter, Hinesville Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Ryon, will have some of her shoes featured in the exhibit.
Like Poole, Ryon is known for her love of shoes, and she chose to participate because the cause is close to her heart.
Ryon doesn’t know how the exhibit will come together, but she said she looks forward to seeing how the event engages men and women.
“The Hinesville Area Arts Council always has a way of bringing a new perspective, a new way to look at things,” she said. “I think men will get a lot out of it, too, … every man has a mother. Most men have sisters or wives or girlfriends. They’re affected by this disease as much as we are.”
While Thomas stayed strong throughout, Ryon admits she had a hard time dealing with her mom’s diagnosis — especially when she had to put on a brave face for her two young daughters.
“It was extremely tough, … you never want to question your parents’ mortality, and you hear the word ‘cancer,’ and your mind flashes toward those thoughts of, you know, bad things can happen, too, …,” Ryon said. “But my mom has always been so strong, she’s like, ‘You know, tell me what I’m facing, and let’s hit it straight on and let’s do this and get back to being healthy again.’”
For Ryon, the challenges that stilettos present can be a metaphor for a survivor’s journey.
“A lot of times people say to me, when I am wearing a pair of crazy high heels, ‘I don’t know how you walk in those,’” she said. “My response to them is probably something a lot of breast cancer patients relate to: ‘One foot in front of the other.’”
Editor’s note: The fall edition of Liberty Life magazine, which hits newsstands this week, indicates the former Go Pink Night date. Courier and Liberty Life staff learned about the time change after the publication deadline, and we apologize for any confusion.

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