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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Hedges family donates sunscreen dispensers for splashpads

by Sylene Argent

In memory of daughter, Kari, who passed away due to melanoma cancer at the age of 30 in 2014, the Hedges family donated a sunscreen dispenser for each of the three splashpads located within the Municipality of Essex.

  The official unveiling ceremony was hosted at the Harrow Splashpad on Wednesday, July 11.

  Thanks to the generous donation, the three dispenser stations (in Essex Centre, Harrow Centre, and at Colchester Park) will provide free sunscreen to facility users.

  “It is fitting you’re giving back to community in this way,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said. “I know members of our community will appreciate it.”

  On behalf of Council, Bondy thanked the Hedges family for providing the free sunscreen dispensers to the community, and to the Town’s staff for working with the local family to implement the project.

  Bondy noted the Town of Essex worked closely with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to have the stations implemented, which contain SPF 30 sunscreen.

  Neil Mackenzie, Manager of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, congratulated the Hedges family and the Town of Essex for implementing the dispensers. He believes their presence at local splashpads sends a message of putting sun safety at the forefront to the community. He like how the Harrow Splashpad provided areas of shade nearby, also, with some natural tree coverage.

  Some safety tips, to reduce the potential of obtaining a sun-related injury, he shared, included wearing an appropriate sunscreen, a hat, glasses, and limiting time in the sun.

  He noted it is especially important to protect youth from the sun. “As adults, we should make sure we are good role models for sun safety,” he said.

  Kari’s parents, Cathy and Dan Hedges, thanked the Town for working with them to implement the stations.

  Their daughter, affectionately know as “Care Bear” loved to spend time outdoors, playing soccer and canoeing. She was also a university-ranked track and field athlete.

  Though she applied sunscreen regularly, melanoma still took her life, her mom, Cathy, said, through heartfelt tears. “It is important to raise awareness about applying and reapplying [sunscreen]. You need to put sunscreen on and put it on again so other families do not have to go through what we did.”

Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, then presented the Hedges family with a memento, recognizing their generous donation that is dedicated to protecting others from sun injury.

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