News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 13, 2014

Going purple: ‘Honoring those who are still fighting’ against cancer

Volunteers paint ribbon on Wabash for cancer awareness campaign

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Every stroke of paint that touched the roadway had a profound meaning to a small group of painters on Sunday.

“It means hope,” said four-year cancer survivor Cristy Werremeyer.

This symbol of hope is the purple cancer awareness ribbon at the intersection of Eighth Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. Werremeyer and a few other volunteers repainted the sign on Sunday as part of “Paint the Town Purple,” now in its third year.

Purple is the color used to represent all cancer diseases — more than 100 of them, said Shannon Giles, event organizer and American Cancer Society community representative.

The placement of this “vibrant” ribbon at the intersection of Eighth Street and Wabash Avenue — where thousands of people cross every day — is also significant, she said.

“It [the purple ribbon] tells them that there is a community concerned for those who are touched by cancer,” Giles said. “There is a desire to end this disease.”

“This is our way of saying we’re in it to end it,” she added. She hopes that the ribbon will serve as a constant reminder to people about the cancer fight and invitation to join in the cause.

The volunteers also placed purple ribbons around light posts and educational yard signs in downtown planter boxes as part of the “Paint the Town Purple.”

In addition to promoting cancer awareness, the event also aimed to recognize the 22nd year Vigo County has hosted the Relay for Life event benefiting the American Cancer Society. Paint the Town Purple also promotes the approaching Relay, which will kick off next month. This year’s theme is “Finish the Fight.”

As she sat on the roadway, 11-year breast cancer survivor, Darla Maesch, carefully painted the ribbon trimmings white.

The Clay County resident, who has been volunteering for the American Cancer Society for 10 years, said she has been participating in “Paint the Town Purple” since its inception because she wants to raise awareness about cancer, which “never sleeps.”

Having lost both her parents to lung cancer and having been afflicted with cancer in the past, Maesch said she tries to do her part to honor those who lost the fight against cancer and to support those who are still fighting.

“I am very passionate about finishing the fight,” Maesch said as she held the paint brush in her hand.

Every stroke of paint meant a great deal.

“It means a lot that I am back again,” alive and well, the “proud” survivor said. “I just wish a lot of people would have been as lucky as I was.”

So she is now giving support to others by volunteering.

“I am honoring those who are still fighting.”

Giving support to others was also one of Werremeyer’s reasons for participating in Paint the Town Purple. But knowing that cancer knows no bounds, she also takes her two kids to the event each year, to educate them.

Werremeyer hopes for a cure to be found soon because she never wants her children to suffer through it.

“They’re the reason I ‘Relay’,” said the Terre Haute resident, who survived melanoma.

“She didn’t like cancer, so she’s standing up against cancer,” 10-year-old Chyne Noble said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or