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Pink pumpkin party helps teach about breast cancer

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Posted: Sunday, October 16, 2011 11:23 pm

Sixth-grader Megan Lapcevic, 11, dipped her paint brush into a Styrofoam cup and coated her pumpkin in a deep magenta paint.

Rubbing the excess paint off her hands, she called her creation "pinkalicious."

"I've made plenty of boring, orange pumpkins, but this is the most fun one yet," Megan said.

UF&Shands hosted its first "Pink Pumpkin Painting Party" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the Cancer Genetics Research Complex lawn.

Lindy Brounley, communications director for the Shands at UF cancer center, said she wanted the event to help educate the community about breast cancer while also offering a new perspective on the disease.

"We wanted this event to be fun and hands on," Brounley said. "I think we've achieved that goal."

Jerry Gramig, a 49-year-old Gainesville resident, agreed. He, along with his wife, Lavina, and their daughter, Ellie, 11, participated in the event early Saturday afternoon. Gramig lost his mother to cancer, and cancer has affected both sides of his family through the years.

"[The event is] like having a game with a purpose," Gramig said. "There's fun with learning here. People are getting the chance to show support for the cause and gaining some education without being overwhelmed."

Brounley anticipated 100 participants and had preordered 200 pumpkins. She said they bought additional pumpkins from Publix Super Markets and Lowe's.

About 530 people preregistered for the event, she said. About half were children.

"That's the real focus here," Brounley said. "While this is an event for families, we really hope to bring awareness to the mothers, the aunts, the grandmothers, even the dads who have brought the children out. It's all about education, prevention and awareness, really."

UF&Shands, the cancer center and the Climb for Cancer Foundation offered information packets and brochures.

Mary Lavan, a 76-year-old Gainesville resident, lost her daughter to breast cancer 20 years ago.

"This event really amazes me," she said, placing her hand over her heart. "To see all of the youth out here, it's overwhelming."

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