Pink Pumpkin Fest set for Saturday at UF


Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 5:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 5:41 p.m.

Barb Wills believes that if she can keep one girl from losing her mother, she will have really accomplished something.

Wills, who lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 7, said she has dedicated much of her life to spreading breast cancer awareness in the Gainesville community.

UF&Shands is hosting the inaugural Pink Pumpkin Fest at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Cancer Genetics and Research Center Complex, a women's cancer research facility at the University of Florida.

Saturday's festival is combining last year's Pink Pumpkin Painting Party and Pink Ribbon Ride with this year's Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off and Pee Wee Pink Pumpkin Bicycle Parade. It will also feature vendors and a health pavilion.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit treatment-resistant breast cancer research at UF&Shands.

The festival will start off with a bike ride called the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off. Registration is available online for $35 and includes an event T-shirt, breakfast, lunch and a pumpkin to decorate. Riders can also raise money by ordering a signature Pink Ribbon Jersey online. Short-sleeved jerseys cost $70, while sleeveless jerseys cost $60.

The race will start at 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of Mowry Road and Gale Lemerand Drive.

Wills is organizing the race with Barb Thomas, a local advocate and breast cancer survivor.

"Barb and I came from different paths, but we ended up at same place because we both have a strong passion for the same cause," Wills said.

Ilene Silverman, a Gainesville television personality, will host the pedal-off, which will feature 20- 40- or 55-mile routes highlighting the campus, local habitats and the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.

The goal of the Pedal-Off will be to convey the same essence as last year's Pink Ribbon Ride, which Wills held to honor her mother's battle with breast cancer. Each rider can pre-order up to three personalized ribbons to wear and remember their loved ones at the event.

At 10 a.m. participants can decorate pink pumpkins at the Pink Pumpkin Painting Party. Lindy Brounley, communications director for the UF&Shands Cancer Center, said the pumpkins will be shipped from Michigan and then spray-painted hot pink, light pink and silver.

She hopes painters will continue to spread awareness in their neighborhoods by displaying the pink pumpkins outside their homes.

For the Pee Wee Pink Pumpkin Bicycle Parade, staged for children 12 and under, entrants can decorate their bikes for the parade. Brounley said Dekova Batey, coordinator for the city of Gainesville's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, will give a bike safety talk at 10:30 a.m., including helmet demonstrations and lessons on street etiquette for bicyclists.

Certificates will be awarded to children for the most "pinkalicious" bike, most creative bike and more.

New to this year's festival, the UF&Shands health pavilion tent will feature representatives from clinical programs such as family medicine, pediatric medicine, cardiovascular medicine and oncology medicine. The tables will offer health screenings for blood pressure, bone density, body mass index and grip strength.

To encourage attendees to visit the health pavilion booths, organizers are handing out cards and asking them to get 10 signatures from 10 of the booths. If they complete the cards, they will be entered in a raffle to win a pink Nike iPod nano. Those walking in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk also can come by wearing their shirts and automatically enter the drawing.

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