Pin raises money for Relay

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, April 16, 2011

Relay pin: A mermaid sporting the symbolic colors of many different types of cancer has been made into a pin. The pins are on sale for $10 through the Quilt With Me shop off Godwin Boulevard.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories leading up to the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life, to be held May 13-14.

She’s no Ariel, but she longs to be part of your world.

A new mermaid pin developed by a Norfolk artist can be yours for $10. A majority of the purchase price benefits Relay for Life.

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“I decided I needed something that was all-inclusive that everybody suffering and battling cancer could identify with,” said Georgia Mason, an artist who has designed several of the iconic mermaids that proliferate in Norfolk.

Virginia Oncology Associates Cancer Treatment Center at 5900 Lake Wright Drive in Norfolk commissioned one of the mermaid statues to be placed in front of its office.

The resulting creation includes the flowing hair and outstretched arms common for the Norfolk mermaids. But the rest of the body is unique.

On the mermaid’s torso is the American Cancer Society’s logo and the shade of purple that has come to be associated with its Relay for Life fundraiser. The rest of the body fades in rainbow fashion to a variety of hues — blues, greens, yellow, orange, pink and red before ending in a purple tail.

“Cause ribbon” shapes create each of the mermaid’s hundreds of scales.

Mason’s own family inspired her to make a mermaid that encompasses each of the symbolic colors of cancer, such as pink for breast cancer, purple for pancreatic cancer, gold for childhood cancer and so on.

“I’ve had five people in my family with cancer,” Mason said. “Wearing five pins to support them was a little much.”

After the creation of the full-size mermaid in Norfolk, Mason had what she calls a “lightbulb moment” — to create a pin replica of the original mermaid and sell it as a team fundraiser for Relay for Life.

“I knew it would make a really good fundraiser for the teams,” she said. “It’s a wonderful fundraiser.”

So far, more than 5,000 of the pins have been sold in the area. But Mason has a lofty goal — to make $12 million for the American Cancer Society by selling at least 500 of the pins at every Relay in the country.

“The more donations ACS can get, the faster they’re going to stomp it out,” Mason said. “We’re all working together.”

Kathleen Smith, who is a member of a team called The Survivors this year, said her team will continue selling the pins after the Relay.

“We’re not just limited to the Relay,” she said. “We just want to keep mailing them out.”

Of the $10 purchase price, $6 goes to Relay for Life. The ACS can buy a wig for a cancer patient for $5, so each pin buys a wig with $1 left over.

“That’s just one thing the donation can go for,” Mason said.

Though there are no plans to make a similar peanut pin for Suffolk residents, Mason is sure that the mermaids will be snapped up just as quickly in Suffolk as they have been in Norfolk.

“Everybody loves mermaids,” she said.

To purchase a pin, visit the Quilt With Me shop at 2999 Corporate Lane (off Godwin Boulevard north of Sentara Obici Hospital) or call Smith at 925-3752.

You can also help fight cancer by getting involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, to be held May 13-14 at Bennett’s Creek Park. For more information, visit