Attendance at the sixth annual Paint the Park Pink event at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith was up more than 31%, with event organizers having to order more t-shirts three times.
There were 1,675 registered walkers, about 400 more than in 2011. Also, an estimated 95 cancer survivors were in attendance. The fundraising goal of $75,000 was expected to be exceeded.
The event, held Saturday on the UAFS campus, is sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Ozark), and was first held in 2007.
The Family Fun Walk portion began at 10 a.m., following the Survivors Breakfast from the UAFS Reynolds Room inside the Smith-Pendergraft Building. Following the one-mile walk, participants were treated to live music, sponsor booths, and a children’s play area.
But Saturday wasn’t about the money. It was about celebrating life, according to Patricia Brown, honorary chair and chief operating officer (COO) for The City Wire.
“We’re all terminal,” Brown said in a recent interview. “Your life starts with the year you were born and it ends with the year you die and your dash in the middle is your life. Make your dash count.”
Brown is a one-time breast cancer survivor. During a routine checkup in June 2012, she discovered that the disease was back and now divides her time between COO duties at The City Wire and cancer treatments at Highlands Oncology Group in Rogers and at M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston.
“True Grit comes in pink. Get your girlfriend and take on the world,” Brown said during her speech Saturday.
Brown shared the honorary chair title with Vonda Gardner, the co-owner of the T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants in Fort Smith and Conway. Gardner has also provided extensive personal support to Brown during her recent cancer fight.
Jennifer Kelly, a cancer survivor who says she was “just too mean to die,” said the large crowd was impressive.
“I am so honored to have all these people show. People are so busy these days. I'm humbled by the presence of so many that came out today,” she said.
There was also an affiliated Paint the Patio Pink event held Thursday night at TGI Friday’s in Fort Smith. The event was designed to be marketing push into the main event, with Komen volunteers registering teams and individual walkers.