The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 12, 2012

Caregiver launches Project Pink Flamingo

— Sheryl Gorman knows how difficult life becomes once a loved one has been diagnosed with a deadly disease. She also understands the hardships families must endure — ranging from emotional to financial support.

Gorman, who lost her niece to breast cancer and is now caring for her sister — who was diagnosed with the same disease — saw the opportunity to help families such as her own.

Project Pink Flamingo is a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks. It aims to help support families’ non-medical needs such as rent, utilities and mortgage payments. The fundraiser started Sept. 1 and will end on Oct. 31.

The pink plastic birds are a fun and easy way to raise money toward helping breast cancer patients and their families, she said.

Project Pink Flamingo works like this: A “flocker” has the birds sent to the yard of someone who is loved — a person in treatment or a cancer survivor. That person becomes the “flockee.”

The birds can also be set up in memory of a loved one, Gorman said. Once the birds have been sent to a yard, it is considered “flocked.” The birds are attended by a “flock master,” who will remove them the next day to go to a new yard.

“This is very near and dear to my heart,” Gorman said of the fundraiser she started this year.

Gorman recalls learning that her niece, Michelle Mynatt, was fighting breast cancer.

“It feels like someone has turned a light off in your world,” she said.

Mynatt didn’t have health insurance and faced making tough financial decisions between her treatment payments and utility bills, Gorman said.

“Those ladies who are in treatment, they need to focus on trying to get well and not ‘How am I going to pay the light bill?’” she said.

Mynatt died Oct. 9, 2010.

In addition to raising funds for breast cancer patients, Gorman is just as devoted to helping educate women on resources that are available to them.

“I made (Michelle) a promise that I will never hush about the cause,” she said.

Also fueling that drive is the fact that her sister, Jackie Chavez, is fighting her own battle with the disease.

The idea to use the flamingos came from a fundraiser Gorman said she saw in Carl Junction.

“So far, I have done eight yards and had a flock of birds go to Springfield,” she said earlier this month, adding that another flock was on its way to Neosho the next day.

Gorman said she plans for the Pink Flamingo Project to become a permanent fixture to aid breast cancer patients.

Want to help?

It is $30 to have a yard “flocked” and $18 to purchase a Project Pink Flamingo T-shirt.

For more information, call 417-438-9435.