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People dance in a flash mob at the Paint Pittston Pink 5K run on Saturday, Oct. 3. Christopher Dolan / Staff Photographer

The city is once again being painted pink to promote cancer awareness and research for the fourth annual Paint Pittston Pink.

This year, there will be a new event added — a bachelor and bachelorette auction sponsored by the Pittston Chamber of Commerce. Other new and returning events include the Gentlemen’s Dash, the annual 5K run, a designer purse bingo, a lantern launch and a celebrity bartender event.

Barb Sciandra, a breast cancer survivor and one of the founders of the campaign, expressed excitement and gratitude for the community’s support.

“I feel blessed and awesome that our community really helps out,” Sciandra said. “It makes me feel loved.”

Paint Pittston Pink continues to expand and grow from a one-week event into a community project that spans several weeks. One of the first main events on this year’s roster is the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce’s Meet Your Match Bachelor & Bachelorette Auction.

“We came across this and thought this has never been done in our area,” said Brandi Bartush, of the chamber. “All proceeds will go directly to Paint Pittston Pink.”

Those who register for the event, scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at Tomato Bar, will have a chance to bid on dates with the available bachelors and bachelorettes. Bartush said whoever wins the bid for a bachelor or bachelorette will receive a “date package” full of gift certificates and other items from local businesses to either use on a date with their bachelor or bachelorette or just keep for themselves.

Bartush said the chamber already has six people signed up to be auctioned off, and she hopes to have 10 people by the main event. Tuxedo by Sarno will dress the bachelors and Gerri’s Bridal will dress the bachelorettes, Bartush said.

The auction will start at 7:30 p.m. with entertainment by Sweet Pepper and the Long Hots, but those willing to donate a little extra can attend a VIP reception with the bachelors and bachelorettes at 5:30 p.m. at Palazzo 53. Regular admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door. VIP admission is $75. Bartush emphasized all proceeds will go back to Paint Pittston Pink, and the chamber remains open to sponsorships from local businesses for the event.

Paint Pittston Pink, under the leadership of Sciandra and cofounder Qiana Lehman, has not only expanded its number of activities, it also has gained many volunteers over the years.

Some of those notable volunteers will serve as celebrity bartenders at a fundraising event at the Red Mill in Pittston on Friday, Oct. 6, including state Rep. Mike Carroll and Pittston Mayor Jason Klush.

Many others will help organize and run in one of the main events, the annual Color Me Pink 5K. The run, which begins in downtown Pittston at 11 a.m., is part of a day of activities on Saturday, Oct. 7, that will also include a Mass at 9 a.m. in St. John the Evangelist Church, a Caped CURE-Sader Family Fun Walk at 11:05 a.m., followed by the Gentlemen’s Dash at noon, with Michael Callahan, Jason Ferentino, Nick Kovaleski, Lorenzo Medico, Stephen Parulski, Dave Pedri, John Widdick and Gennaro Zangardi donning high heels in a dash to the finish line.

“When asked to participate in this fundraising event, I immediately said, ‘yes,’” said Parulski, marketing and events coordinator for Times-Shamrock Communications, which owns Greater Pittston Progress.

Parulski, who explained his father won his battle against breast cancer thanks to early diagnosis, said, “Through the years, I’ve met many, mostly women, who have fought against this disease and for the most part beat it. I think of them as true warriors.”

All of the Paint Pittston Pink events are held with the goal of raising awareness and money to fight all kinds of cancer. The organization helps individuals and families keep fighting to find a cure, including through an amino therapy vaccine that uses a patient’s own immune system to fight the disease.

“The main drive is to raise awareness and money for cancer research and the vaccine, but also it’s to try to celebrate the small victories and to focus on the positives.” Sciandra said.

Sciandra said since the Pittston community is such a family-oriented place, it has been easy to find volunteers and people willing to support the Paint Pittston Pink efforts. She said she feels confident about the event’s future, especially with the number of young people getting involved.

“I’ve seen the growth of young people helping with each passing year,” said Sciandra. “It’s important at a young age to give back to the community and take part in something.”

Sciandra said getting volunteers is vital to the continued success of Paint Pittston Pink, with organizers planning for the next Paint Pittston Pink as soon as activities conclude.

“We plan out early and focus on what we would want to see happen and expect that outcome,” Sciandra explained.

Every year, Paint Pittston Pink sets out with huge expectations and Sciandra said they have never been disappointed. This year, organizers hope to raise $100,000, growing on totals of $30,000, $50,000 and $75,000 each of the past years.

In the beginning, the goal of the organization was to just sell flags and raise money that way. That ended up turning into a 5K run and all the events that have been added to the schedule since. Now, the goal is to take the campaign national, starting with efforts to gain national exposure for next year’s Gentlemen’s Dash.

“Maybe get it on the Jimmy Fallon show,” Sciandra hoped.

For now, Sciandra plans to keep working on developing a Paint Pittston Pink website to attract volunteers, collect donations and get news out about cancer research and new therapies. She also said the website would help encourage people to keep fighting.

“Stay positive and don’t give up,” Sciandra encouraged those suffering from the disease. “You’re not a statistic or a number. You’re strong and will get through this.”

For a full list of events, visit the Paint Pittston Pink Facebook page.

mwaters@pittstonprogress.com

sscinto@pittstonprogress.com;

570-821-2048, @sscintoCV