Hot air balloons Freestar, foreground, and Phobic light up the night during the Paint the Town Pink Party Health, Fitness & Beauty Expo at the Roswell Convention Center, Friday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
After a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, Joan Park of Capitan said she’s “happy to be alive.”
Park, who grew up in Roswell, was vending on behalf of Anderson- Bethany Funeral Home at the Paint the Town Pink Party at the Roswell Convention and Visitors Center Friday.
Her voice cracking, she said, “It’s an honor to have people care enough to go beyond themselves.”
The party is the capstone event in a month-long campaign coordinated by the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center to support the Chaves County Cancer Fund.
According to Cancer Fund Vice President Julie Morrow, more than 300 people had attended the party by 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The party continues at the Convention Center today. Events include fitness classes and health seminars.
Friday night’s event started with a ribbon cutting and release of pink helium balloons.
The evening included 39 vendors selling products to support the cancer fund, a dance party, a balloon glow and the lighting of pink luminarias, or small paper bags with candles inside.
The luminarias, like the balloons released earlier in the day, were inscribed with messages.
“Love and miss you mom,” read one.
For all its festivity, event organizers said the evening had a solemn atmosphere.
“I think it’s more people remembering someone who had cancer,” said Juliana Halvorson, organizer of today’s Zombie Walk.
Rehearsals for the Zombie Walk begin at noon today, with the walk itself beginning at 3 p.m. Registration costs $5 and all proceeds go to the cancer fund.
Cancer Awareness Month events in Roswell have thus far raised more than $7,000, according to Morrow. A final count on donations will be available next week.
ENMMC Marketing Director Brooke Linthicum, who founded the campaign, said she was pleased with the show of community support.
She said that balloonists participating in the scheduled balloon glow vowed to come to the event regardless of weather conditions, and would at the very least turn on the burners of their balloons.
“They were just so supportive,” she said.
She mentioned that one balloonist had lost his wife to breast cancer a few years ago.
Linthicum advises that “prevention is really the best way to go” when dealing with breast cancer.
She said women should have mammograms by the age of 40 at the latest, earlier if they have family history of the disease. She also advised women to ask their doctors how to do self-exams.