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College student raises awareness for young victims of cancer



Staff Writer


At the entrance of the East Lincoln High Pink Out Night football game on Friday, sat two 21-year-old women selling bright, glittery headbands — not something patrons at the event would normally see.

Lauren Athey, a 2009 graduate of East Lincoln, sat with Kaley Tipton at a booth filled with colorful accessories — both are members of the Headbands of Hope group that was founded earlier this year.

Athey joined in June, after it was created by her former-college roommate Jessica Ekstrom earlier this year. Ekstrom came up with the idea after interning with the Make a Wish foundation, and wanting to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer.

“It seems like all the help out there is for adults (with cancer), there’s very little that goes toward children,” Athey told the Times-News last week.

A portion of the proceeds from a glittery pink headband with a flower, or a lace purple hair accessory, along with the various other designs and colors the duo had available last week, goes toward the St. Baldrick’s Research Foundation, along with the donation of a headband to a girl with Cancer.

The items ranged in price from $10 to $18, with $1 going toward the research foundation.

The accessories are manufactured from My Sunshine Shoppe in North Dakota, while the group continues to try to make their name known across the country. In addition to taking part in events across the state, from 5Ks to football games, Headbands of Hope has started to spread across the nation as 24 representatives at colleges across the country offer the bands, such as Ohio State University.

Athey is a senior at East Carolina University and hopes to make the business a full-time career post-graduation, as does founder Erkstrom who will be committing more hours to the group once she graduates, too.

Seeing something bring a smile to a little girl who spends much of her time suffering is something Athey can’t put a price on — something so small as a headband making someone so happy, Athey said.

A portion of the proceeds made are school-related, such as the ladies’ appearance at the game last week, and the BETA club sales at East Lincoln as well. Athey made various announcements throughout the night to draw awareness to the mission of the cancer-focused business, as well as direct them toward the stand that patrons may have missed when heading to their seats.

The Mustangs cheerleaders all wore pink bands during the game to match their Pink Stampede stadium signage and all-pink uniforms.

“I realized that headbands are the perfect way for these girls to keep their feminine identity and have a constant reminder that they’re not alone,” Ekstrom posted on her website blog.

For more information, visit www.headbandsofhope.org.

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