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Our communities show their support

October 7, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

One of the greatest things, to me, about living in the Ohio Valley is when I see so many of our residents come together to show their support for a great cause.

Whether it be something like the United Way, a local food pantry, Make A Wish or another special cause, our communities have always found a way to put aside their differences and join forces to lend a hand.

We've been witnessing much of that compassionate spirit in recent weeks as October - observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month - began.

One of the biggest events in the last few days was the "Paint the Town Pink" walk, put together by CHANGE, Inc. and Athena's Closet, with support from a variety of local organizations.

There were around 150 people that I was able to count, men, women and children, with most wearing at least a little bit of pink, walking along Weirton's Main Street and rallying together to show their support and raise money to benefit causes which assist those with cancer, as well as to provide testing to detect the disease.

Standing there, looking at those in the CHANGE, Inc. parking lot on West Street before the walk, and in Cove Commons after, it would have been difficult not to have been moved in some way.

Others also have been stepping up, with Weirton's firefighters selling special pink T-shirts to benefit Athena's Closet, students at Weir High School selling T-shirts and wristbands, the employees of DeeJay's BBQ Ribs and Grille holding what has become a traditional fundraiser for the Tony Teramana Cancer Center and the volleyball teams at Weir and Madonna high schools holding their own event later this month.

These are, of course, just a few of the more recent events held locally.

There is sure to be an event just about any time of year in the Ohio Valley, and, no matter the cause, a large crowd tends to show up and lend a hand.

It can be anything from raising money for a scholarship fund, assisting Rotary clubs to provide funds for the local youth soccer program, supporting the chambers of commerce or helping to preserve our area's history through one of our museums.

Several of our schools recently took times out of their instructional day to raise money for the Weirton United Way through walk-a-thons and other activities.

It is good to see so much support coming from our communities, especially when I have read some of the news stories over the last few days of people - including children - facing punishment for doing the same thing.

One instance many of you might have seen during a local news broadcast Friday night where a girl was suspended from school for dying her hair pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While the decision did go against the school district's dress code, I think an exception should have been made in this case.

Another involved a little boy whose mother has been living with breast cancer and facing surgery.

To show his support, the boy got his hair cut into a mohawk and died it pink, complete with an awareness ribbon shaved into his hair.

The school's principal initially told him he would be unable to try out for the school's basketball team, even though district officials said it did not violate any dress code. Eventually, through efforts by his family and the power of the media, the principal relented, saying he could try out for the team and even promising to create a new school organization to help raise awareness of issues throughout the community.

It's a sad state to see an interest in raising awareness or voicing their support for such a great cause being quashed by people who should encourage it instead.

I hope that is not something that takes place in other areas of the country, but if it does, I hope people take a second look at such policies.

Each community, each region for that matter, of our nation, is able to survive because of the strength of its people.

I've often said the Ohio Valley will continue because our people are willing to step up and help each other in our times of need.

We will face many challenges in the coming years, and there will be adjustments to be made as we change and, I'm sure, grow.

We probably won't have any big business taking care of our needs as we did in the past.

But what will always keep us going is the way we come together and support each other as a community.

That is something in which we can all take more than a little bit of pride.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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