LEWISTON – The city of Lewiston painted the town pink on Oct. 16, planting 5,000 pink tulip bulbs to benefit the Maine Cancer Foundation and kicking off a tri-city breast cancer awareness fundraiser known as the Pink Tulip Project.

Flower beds were planted throughout the city in public gardens and on the grounds of Central Maine Medical Center, Bates College, Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice and a pink ribbon shaped garden at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. More than 3,000 of the bulbs were planted by fifth-grade student volunteers from Longley School.

“I have gotten such personal joy from this project,” said Robin Whitten of Portland, Pink Tulip Project founder. “The inspiration my own garden gave me was recreated today in gardens throughout Lewiston. We have had such a positive response from the city as well as our partners and our volunteers, with eight pink tulip gardens being planted on Monday in Lewiston.

“I know that hundreds of cancer survivors will join me in looking forward to the blooms and all the hope the gardens symbolize.”

Planting volunteers were coordinated by Adam Caron, director of marketing and special projects for Androscoggin County United Way, with many volunteers being school children who have benefited from United Way/Libra Foundation TOPS summer camp opportunities.

Lewiston, Bangor and Portland were selected by the Maine Cancer Foundation as pilot sites for the Pink Tulip Project, intended to create a sense of “hope and renewal” for cancer patients and their families during the spring.

At the kickoff, Mayor Lionel Guay Jr. issued a challenge to the cities of Bangor and Portland to raise $5,000.

Whitten had just planted her bulb garden in November 2004 when she learned of her breast cancer diagnosis. Throughout her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Whitten visualized her garden of tulips blooming and knowing that at that time her treatments would be over. That vision of tulips and hope was the inspiration for the Pink Tulip Project.

The tri-city project is a fundraiser for the Maine Cancer Foundation, and interested donors may sponsor tulips in the name of a loved one for $1 a tulip (10 tulip minimum) by visiting www.mainecancer.org or by calling 773-2533.

A tri-city fundraising goal of $15,000 has been set, and 100 percent of the monies raised will be utilized by the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Fund.

The Maine Cancer Foundation funds cancer research, education and patient support throughout Maine. Executive Director Susan Rowan noted,

“Raising funds for the MCF’s Women’s Cancer Fund with the Pink Tulip Project seemed like a perfect match of vision and hope.”

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