Colorful lawn ornament serves to flush out cancer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Mark your calendar on Friday for an event taking place at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy that will benefit the Relay for Life.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., there will be a cancer survivors’ reception held in the cafetorium, and then at 7 p.m. the survivors will move to the athletic field to take the beginning lap. The event ends at 10 a.m., Saturday and award winners will be announced.

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It won’t be hard to miss the site, since both will have &uot;purple potties,&uot; unique lawn ornaments, set nearby. One will be inside the cafetorium, and the second will be stationed in the Obici tent outdoors.

Purple potties have been around a couple of years now, and they are one of the most exceptional modes of fund raising in the city.

Sylvia Fowler of Bethlehem Court originated the purple potty idea.

She dreamed up the idea for the 2003 Relay for Life. The campaign was called, &uot;Flush Out Cancer.&uot;

&uot;I was taking chemo and they had to flush the lines to cleanse them,&uot; said Fowler. &uot;That’s how I came up with that name. We’re using it again this year since so many people got a laugh out of it.&uot;

Her idea was to have one of her notorious purple potties mysteriously appear on someone’s front lawn or store front. To rid themselves of the unique lawn ornaments, the recipient must pay Fowler a &uot;handling charge,&uot; and those funds are turned over to the American Cancer Society. The recipient, in turn, then has the privilege of choosing the next prize winner.

&uot;This was a great campaign…very successful last year with my husband and son, George and Travis, helping me out with it,&uot; said Fowler. &uot;It was our first year to try it out and we raised more than $5,200 with the purple potties. We have delivered it to 300 people already this year. We have logged almost 250 to 300 miles a week to place the potties and with gas prices now… but still, if someone had not been involved in a fund raiser when I suffered with cancer, who knows what could have happened.&uot;

When speaking of her bout with breast cancer, it is with passion that she encourages everyone to get involved with the fund-raising efforts in some way.

&uot;It’s been two years now… I am a survivor and I know the difficulty of not only being sick, but also the problems suffered by the entire family,&uot; said Fowler. &uot;My husband and my son were so dear to me, and the American Cancer Society was there for all of us… lending support and helping us in many ways. I would like to reiterate; get involved and help us win the battle over cancer.&uot;

She also said she is extremely grateful to the entire community for the support of her special project, Flush Out Cancer.