On a recent, chilly, Saturday morning in late October, the town of Senath, Mo., was decked out in bright hues of pink – from ribbons adorning telephone poles along Commercial Street to Williamson Park in town, where ladies, and a few men, donned various shades of pink for a fund raiser called Walk for a Cure. Even the morning sky got into the act, donating a layer of pinkish clouds stretching low across the eastern horizon.
But the biggest attraction was a little north of the city, past the flashing light at Hwy 412 in Senath. There, lining the road in front of the Dalton Gin, were 15 round modules of cotton wrapped in pink plastic. Not the yellow-colored wrap typically associated with John Deere’s round-bale picker, but pink, really pink.
The modules – with a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon spray painted on each end – are supposed to raise breast cancer awareness, which they’ve done. But the response to the modules has been nothing short of amazing, according to Jason Chandler, an area cotton producer who produced and harvested the cotton inside them.
The pink modules have generated emotion, fascination and cameras, lots of cameras. People feel connected to them. One person even wanted to purchase one from Chandler. At times, when Chandler has been at the site, people have stopped to talk to him about their cancer experiences.
Chandler has a story to tell too. Three years ago, breast cancer took his sister, Misty Edmonston, 33, who left behind a young daughter, Camille, and a husband, Justin. It still pains Chandler to talk about Misty’s four-year battle with cancer, but he does, for her. After all, she’s the reason Senath has turned pink. She’s why people in cars do double-takes when they pass the field in front of Dalton Gin.
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“Misty was an extraordinary person,” Chandler said. “She ran a half marathon while she had cancer. Her strength and faith touched many, many people. Three years later, she still is touching people. There are so many families affected by breast cancer. It easy to say that, but until it happens to someone close to you, then you realize what that really means.”
This spring, the Chandler family started a charity in Misty’s name, Misty’s Mission, to raise money to help those dealing with breast cancer.
Starting the foundation “was a hard thing, especially for my parents,” Chandler said. “But that’s what Misty would have wanted us to do. She was strong-willed, hard headed and never let anything get her down. We’re a close family, all the siblings are just a few years apart.”
Chandler would like to see pink modules spread to other farms. “My hope is that farmers can have the option to buy the pink wrap and pay maybe a dollar more which would go to a cancer charity. If you could get companies involved to match it, you could generate a lot of money, and nobody would be out a huge amount.”
Chandler worked with his area sales representative, Mike Bieber, with Tama Corp., to acquire the pink wrap, with help from Legacy Equipment Co. Chandler says every farmer he’s talked to has been excited about participating. “It’s been neat.”
Chandler said he thought the wrap color might be too dark when he received the shipment from the manufacturer, but when the first wrapped module hit the ground at harvest, he was, well, tickled pink. “When people come around the curve, they can see them. The pink really sets them off. When you see it, you know what it’s for, what it signifies.
“It’s been one of the most overwhelming things I’ve ever dealt with,” said Chandler, as a truck driver passing by in an 18-wheeler pulled a long blast on his air horn. “Next year, I’m going to do all my modules in pink.”
If his sister was alive to see the modules, Chandler has no doubt she would be smack in the middle of all the commotion. “She would be standing here meeting and greeting everybody. She was a huge supporter of anything pink. If I saw something with a pink ribbon on it, I just bought it and gave it to her. She never let anything get her down. She would always be worried about someone else who was down rather than herself.
“She had a great faith and believed in God until the end. She changed a lot of peoples’ lives.”
Chandler says the pink modules will remain in the field until they are ready to be ginned at Dalton Gin, which he expects to be around the end of October. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The pictures of the pink modules are on Facebook, Chandler noted, “but nothing beats seeing them in person.”
Proceeds from the Saturday morning walk for breast cancer awareness in Senath went to Misty’s Mission, and included a drawing for a 2008 Warriors in Pink edition Ford Mustang.