4th Annual Panties Across the Bridge Event
In honor of Jaymie Lynn Jamison, a 34-year-old mother of four children ages 4 through 14, the Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope was created. She lost her battle with cervical cancer in February 2011, but Jaymie’s oldest daughter, Hope, created Panties Across the Bridge in her memory.
Jaymie went three years without a gynecological screening, and had no idea what the signs were for cervical cancer. She had signs, but thought they were related to having children. “The day after Jaymie passed, Hope wanted to make all women aware of gynecological cancers so no other family would have to suffer like her and her siblings have suffered,” says Shannon Helton, the Jaymie Jamison Foundation for Hope’s Secretary. “Hope created the vision of Panties Across the Bridge and brought it to life.”
Since the first Bridge event in 2011, the event has evolved and grown. Panties Across the Bridge is now a health fair style event and attracts hundreds of attendees from across the Tri-State. Health-related vendors are placed along the Newport side of the Purple People Bridge from 11a.m. to 3p.m. Throughout the day, organizers thousands of decorated panties across the Purple People Bridge, donated by attendees.
“The panties, which are decorated to remember loved ones lost to gynecological cancer, hold words of inspiration or funny sayings for reminders for yearly check ups,” explains Helton. “Our Wall of Awareness will also be placed on the bridge.”
The Wall of Awareness features faces of women who are currently battling, those who are in remission, and those who have lost their battle to gynecological cancer. “We also educate with facts, signs and symptoms with information posted all along the bridge,” says Helton. “This is our largest awareness event. This event is not a money-making event. This event is 100 percent about awareness for gynecological cancers.”
According to Helton, women from around the world — as far as Australia — send decorated panties to be displayed at this event. In fact, women have traveled from Florida to St Louis to attend the event and see the decorated panties fly high over the Ohio River.
“Women are excited and encouraged by our event. It has become more than we ever thought possible,” says Helton. This year there will be live music and speakers, including Kirk Forbes, the Founder of the Kirsten Eve Forbes Foundation who will speak about cervical cancer awareness and the importance of The HPV vaccine. At dark, they will be lighting the Purple People bridge teal, the color of gynecological cancer awareness.
“The bridge lighting is to draw attention to the bridge and have people asking, ‘Why is the bridge teal?'” says Helton. “Our hopes are that people will then inquire about gynecological cancer awareness. Our goal is to make all women aware of gynecological cancers. We hope to teach all women about prevention, early detection, and the importance of yearly exams so no other family has to walk in the Jamison family’s shoes.”
For more information on the 4th Annual Panties Across the Bridge Event, visit them on Facebook.