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MUSCATINE — Last month, the color pink was found throughout Muscatine to help show support for people battling breast cancer. This month, the Merrill Hotel is going to take that support a step further — and they’re taking that step in pink heels, or rather Pink Heals.

On Friday, Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Merrill Hotel will be welcoming the Sauk Valley, Illinois, Chapter of the Pink Heals to Muscatine with an open house event. This will be a free event for the public. During the event, the Merrill will also be presenting the Pink Heals with a check for all the funds raised during the hotel’s Pink Out Day as well as a portion of the proceeds from the Pink Ta-Ta Tini specialty cocktail, which is featured at Maxwell’s, the Merrill’s restaurant and bar.

Back in October, when Muscatine had its Pink Out Day on the 23rd where the community was encouraged to wear pink in support for the cause, the employees (or artists) at the Merrill were left with a bit of a problem. “Most of the artists at the Merrill wear uniforms,” explained Ann Brumback, the Sales Coordinator at the Merrill. “So we created a committee, and wanted to take it one step further.”

With the permission of upper management, artists at the hotel were able to make a donation to the cause, as well as wear jeans and either a pink shirt or a cancer support shirt.

After the event, the Merrill committee decided to give their donations to a nonprofit. “While researching, we decided that Pink Heals was the closest nonprofit to the cause,” Brumback said. “They also serve the citizens of Muscatine and its surrounding communities, keeping the donations local.”

While the Sauk Valley Chapter of the Pink Heals was started about three years ago, Pink Heals Inc. has been going for over a decade now.

The Pink Heals was started by retired fireman Dave Graybill, with its mission being to serve members of the surrounding communities with a message of love, hope and hugs while also raising awareness. Accompanied by ambulances and police cars, the Pink Heals infamous pink fire trucks travel around the communities to offer home visits, hugs and "personalized support at grass roots levels" to provide a boost for those who are suffering from illness and to show that they aren’t alone in their fight.

The group also uses the color pink to represent love and families, and doesn’t just focus on breast cancer but all illnesses and struggles that people endure — and that a community can support. “The Pink Heals Tour is about our community, our family, our neighbors and our leaders and how it will bring us back together to focus on one another,” Graybill said.

The Pink Heals operates on merchandise sales, gifts, local sponsorship and kind donations, making events like this one all the more important.

Muscatine residents who attend the open house event at the Merrill, 119 West Mississippi Drive, will have the opportunity to take pictures with as well as sign the Sauk Valley Chapter’s pink fire truck.

“We are excited to welcome the Pink Heals Sauk Valley Chapter to Muscatine,” said Lee Belfield, the general manager at the Merrill, who will be the one presenting the check to the Pink Heals during the event. 

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