MURRAY – Organizers for Men in Pink announced at the end-of-the-campaign celebration at the Yates Event Center Wednesday evening that the campaign had raised $97,744 for the Regional Cancer Center at Murray-Calloway County Hospital.

Throughout the month of October, the 10 participants wore pink and collected donations, challenging each other to see who could raise the highest total. MCCH General Counsel Chip Adams was announced as the winner of the friendly competition after having seemingly pulled out all the stops to bring attention to the cause, including arriving for the monthly MCCH Board of Trustees meeting two weeks ago in an AirEvac helicopter while sporting a pink Mohawk. Adams raised a total of $22,645.

The other participants this year were Chuck Williams, Jeff Rudy, Colin FitzGerald, Dan Otterson, Matt Purdy, Trevor Saucier, Darren Yates, Matt Price and Lance Allison.

“It has been a really neat experience because I think wearing the pink causes people to start to have a dialogue about why are you wearing pink, or if someone says, ‘Oh, that’s a nice pink shirt’ or ‘That’s a nice pink tie,’ then you get to open up that dialogue about how we’re raising money for the local cancer center,” Adams said. “I think the project sold itself this year, and all of us spent a lot of time working on it, but it was the people of this community that really did the hard work, which was identifying the project and deciding to give some of their hard-earned money to help others in our community.”

During his speech, MCCH CEO Jerry Penner promised that he and his wife, Jamie, would make a personal contribution to push the final total over the $100,000 mark.

“Now, I know we’re sitting at $97,744 and some change, and it sounds like there are at least four checks that came in (right before the banquet),” Penner said. “I know we’re not going to change this number tonight, but Jamie leaned over to me and said, ‘We can’t let this thing go without getting to $100,000,’ and I said, ‘You’re exactly right.’ You guys worked so hard (it’s not right) for us not to get six figures on this, so I’m going to make sure that whatever the total comes out to be, it’s going to be $100,000 and one dollar.”

“Wow,” said Donna Herndon, the chair of the Enduring Hope Campaign to raise the funds to build the cancer center. “Jerry, you just put the icing on the cake. Six figures, my goodness! The poor folks next year are going to (have their work cut out for them).”

Murray Ledger & Times Community Editor Martha Andrus organized the fundraising effort with the help of Kelly Chapman and Lisa Shoemaker, senior philanthropy officer with the MCCH Foundation. She thanked them for their efforts and said the Foundation had been a great help in publicizing the Men in Pink campaign.

“Last but not least, I want to thank all of you men,” Andrus said. “It’s just been amazing to watch what you’ve accomplished this year, to start something new (under a new campaign title), and you all took hold of it and ran with it. You’ve made us very happy women, I can tell you that. You were just absolutely outstanding, and I can tell you that for the last week, I’ve absolutely been on the verge of tears, but it was happy tears, not sad tears. Every time Lisa would send me a new total, I would tear up because it was so amazing. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover our appreciation.”

Shoemaker said she was grateful to the men who participated and to the community for contributing in such a big way. She said the response to Men in Pink has increased public awareness about the fact that the hospital is building a new cancer center and why it is needed – in part, to make sure state-of-the-art services are available to residents of Calloway County and neighboring communities so they don’t have to travel for treatment, and so all those services will be under one roof.

“You know, this project is personal to all of us,” Shoemaker said. “It’s personal to me. I am a breast cancer survivor. My grandmother died of cancer. My brother is battling cancer right now, so it’s personal. It’s personal to most of you. Almost everyone in this room has shared instances of cancer they are dealing with right now.

“Over the last two years, we’ve had more than 300 new cases, just in Murray in our oncology department. That’s not just people living in Murray, it’s just the people who happen to come to our oncologist.”

Shoemaker encouraged everyone to continue advocating for the cancer center and to talk to their family members and friends to keep the fundraising momentum going. Penner said the center is going to be a $15 million project when all is said and done, and it’s incredible to think that is it scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.

Andrus thanked several sponsors for making Men in Pink possible, which included The Murray Bank, the Murray Ledger & Times, the Barn at White Oaks, Peel & Holland, The Keg and the Yates Event Center.

Murray Ledger & Times Publisher Mike Davis said the newspaper was proud to be a partial sponsor of Men in Pink.

“Cancer touches everyone’s life in some form or fashion, and for us to be able to have a part with this is quite an honor,” Davis said. “Martha Andrus, Lisa Shoemaker and Kelly Chapman did such a great job putting this together, and every group of young men who have come through this each year have gone above and beyond. This year is also a testament to the benefits of keeping things local, and we’re just so happy to be a part of this.”