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Liberty is thinking pink
Community raising breast cancer awarness
Haleigh Hawkins, left, Kaytlyn Hawkins, center, and Sarah Edwards model their pink hair extensions at Studio H Salon. Shop owner Rebeckah King offers the extensions for a $10 donation. The money raised will pay for a mammogram for a woman in need. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
Pink is the word.
From selling magenta hair extensions to painting fire trucks and propane tanks pink, Liberty County residents have taken to the front lines of raising awareness locally about a disease that, throughout October, has made national headlines.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, area businesses, community leaders, schools and clubs joined in the national campaign, partnering with awareness groups like the Suzie Q’s to step up fundraising efforts by displaying pink ribbons and decor.
The annual outpouring of support may seem surprisingly public to people who remember that cancer — particularly breast cancer — was a taboo topic less than a decade ago, said Beth Desloges, a mission outreach coordinator with Susan G. Komen for the Cure Coastal Georgia.
According to the American Cancer Society’s website,, breast cancer kills almost 40,000 women each year and is the most common cancer among women in the United States.
Desloges spoke at the Hinesville Public Library as part of an awareness series to inform women of risks and steps they can take to prevent the disease.
“The biggest risk is being a woman and being older,” Desloges said to a group of about 10 women. 

Telling her story

Three-time breast cancer survivor Barbara Holmes, 67, can attest to those facts.
A few weeks ago, Holmes hosted an awareness tea party for about 50 employees of BestCare Home Care. She shared her story.
“With this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I just wanted to do something different,” Holmes said of her idea to host the tea party.
She was first diagnosed with the disease in 2001, then 2005 and again last year. She finished her last round of treatment in April.
“I feel good. I’m really glad to be here,” she said.
While the employees ate, Holmes described her three battles with cancer. She urged those with family histories to get tested as soon as possible. Holmes does have a family history of breast cancer; her mother and sister had battled it.
“Early detection is the key. It is not really a death sentence,” Holmes said. “I just have to make up in mind that this is not the end.”
Women who can’t afford medical tests can seek help from agencies like the American Cancer Society. 

A pink fashion statement

Rebeckah King, owner of Studio H Salon, sold handmade pink hair extensions to put in her clients hair for a $10 donation.
“I wanted to find something I could do to help locally,” said King, who wove the extensions into the hair of girls as young as 2.
“The crowd that comes in to see it is the younger crowd. The best part of doing the fundraiser has been the 12- to 16-year-olds and talking to them about what it means and what it represents,” King said.
So far, she has made $240 through the endeavor and hopes to raise enough by the end of the month to pay for one woman’s mammogram and radiography fees.
“A lot of people don’t realize how expensive it is to get a mammogram,” King said. “My goal is all about education. I lost my closest friend 13 years ago to cancer (not breast), but the key for all cancer is early detection.”

Paint it pink

Even businesses that haven’t quite figured out how to start their own fundraisers have joined in community efforts to raise awareness.
Liberty Propane, Inc. employees painted a propane tank in front of the shop pink. Although it doesn’t have a story to tell, it stands as a reminder to those who understand the meaning of the pink tank.
Manager Kelly Klotz said the staff painted the tank the weekend the Pink Heals Tour — a pink fire truck tour dedicated to spreading cancer awareness — came to town. She said drivers have honked regularly since the tank was painted.
“That was something quick we could do to get it out there,” she said.
The company also painted a tank at the Riceboro Fire Department that survivors, families and friends can sign in memory of their loved ones. The Walthourville Meat Market also has a pink tank on display.
Any customers who have purchased tanks from the company can request to have them painted pink, free of charge, said Liberty Propane owner Hank Stacy.
Although the store has not officially started any fundraisers for this year, they’re going to leave the tank pink year-round and plan to set up a donation system next year.
“Several people here (at Liberty Propane) are very passionate about breast cancer awareness. Especially the guys,” said Klotz. “We hope having the pink tank out there will make the community aware that they can do something too.”

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