Kickin' Cancer Day created to raise cancer awareness
Amber Gorsuch, left, Niki Kendrick and Jake Burtner all of Hagerstown participate in Kickin' Cancer Day at Western Maryland Hospital Saturday. (By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer)
The "Chicken Dance" blared.
People costumed as outlandish characters — including a portly, coconut-clad Hawaiian woman, a madcap clown, a farmer and a painfully nerdy tourist — flapped their arms and shook their tail feathers.
Staff at the long-term and acute-care hospital center in Hagerstown's North End created the fanfare Saturday to raise cancer awareness at Kickin' Cancer Day.
Jan Kendrick, a registered nurse and transport coordinator at the center, said she and co-workers had been trying to come up with an event to promote breast cancer awareness when staff occupational therapist Cheryl Deal was undergoing treatment for the disease.
"One day, I was making appointments for mammograms," Kendrick said. "We had three patients getting mammograms on one day and we said, 'Let's make it Mammogram Monday.'"
From that came an in-house event called Save the Peaches. Employees who planned the event dubbed themselves the Cancer Awareness Team, now known as CAT, and planned "pounces" when they would descend upon various wards of the hospital in costume to improve staff and patient morale.
Motivated by the momentum of Save the Peaches, the team decided to go for a bigger event this year with Kickin' Cancer Day.
"We wanted to open it up to all kinds of cancer and bring in the community," event coordinator Jayné Price said.
Premium Outlets donated items for a raffle. Entertainment included live music, games, prize giveaways and pony rides. More than 200 people attended.
Price said the awareness team planned to donate proceeds from the event to the Washington County chapter of the American Cancer Society and Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley. Breast Cancer Awareness also will receive each of the new bras in the rope.
"They will be retrofitted with prostheses and given for free to women fighting breast cancer," Price said.
Ebenezer AME Church Men's Auxiliary sold food at the event. The Rev. Leroy Jackson, a bladder cancer survivor, said the church would be donating proceeds from the food sales as well.
"It's just really nice to be out here today," Jackson said. "Hagerstown is full of cancer. Raising awareness helps people to know they are not alone. When a person knows they have support from their churches, neighborhoods and their communities, it makes it a little easier."
The event wrapped up with attendees dancing a kick line to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." Price prompted the dancers as they kicked.
"Doggone it," she said, "We gonna kick cancer, y'all."