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‘Paint the town Pink’

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Teen’s goal to raise money

Julie Mancini

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Jeff Bryan

Riverland News

Sydney Hanchar has big plans for Friday the 13th, none of which involves frightening folks, but the Dunnellon High junior is keenly aware that for some, any day of the year can be frightening; especially when it comes to hearing the results for a breast cancer screening is positive.

And because Oct. 13 is a special day for the community, not only because Dunnellon High will host its annual homecoming game, where a new Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned at halftime, it is also the yearly “pink” game where the Tigers wear pink for breast cancer awareness.

And the fight against it has special meaning to Hanchar, Dunnellon’s current Queen of the Rainbow.

When Hanchar became Queen of the Rainbow last April, the platform she proposed was that she wanted to “paint the town pink” in October for breast cancer awareness in order to raise money for Michelle-O-Gram, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women and men who can’t afford much-needed screenings and diagnostic mammograms as well as breast ultrasounds.

Hanchar was there when Michelle Blauser Standrige was diagnosed with breast cancer more than eight years ago. Both she and Hanchar’s mother, Valerie, were close friends.

“I pretty much knew everything that was going on with her,” Hanchar recalled, admitting it was scary watching Standrige fight breast cancer, a battle she ultimately lost. “I knew how much she meant to my mom, she’d been there since I was born.”

Hanchar has worked with Michelle-O-Gram before. To date, she has donated all of the money she earned raising and selling hogs during the Southeastern Youth Fair, more than $19,000 to Michelle-o-Gram.

Because of the recent hurricane, Hanchar had to adjust her original plan, which was to buy and sell large corrugated pink ribbons for people and businesses to display. She realized that asking for more donations when many locals are still recovering from the storm or donating to hurricane victims was just poor timing.

“I still want us, as citizens of Dunnellon, to Paint Dunnellon Pink!” she exclaimed. So Hanchar bought bolts of pink toile and wants to come to businesses, churches or homes to tie a pink ribbon around a post, mailbox or a tree. If folks wish to make a donation to Michelle-O-Gram, that would be fantastic, Hanchar said, and if not, that’s OK, too.

“I’m pretty excited, I hope it turns out really, really well,” said Hanchar, who has already decorated Dunnellon Presbyterian Church and will soon be sprucing up the Dunnellon Chamber & Business Association office as well as Al’s TV.

There are two more ways you can help paint Dunnellon pink. One is by having a pink special in your place of business, such as pink donuts or pink lemonade.

And on Oct. 13, everybody in Dunnellon should wear pink, all day, Hanchar said.

“This is about helping people be more aware of everything, such as Michelle-O-Gram or breast cancer,” Hanchar said, noting this project is more fun because she gets to work “more with the community.” “I love raising my hog, but this project allows me to work with other people.”

To have your business, organization or house decorated, call Valerie Hanchar at 352-362-2107 or the Chamber office at 489-2320.