published Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Pink Heals cancer group to visit Jasper's July 4 celebration

JASPER, Tenn. — City officials are planning a large Fourth of July celebration at Jasper Park, and the opening ceremonies will feature a visit from the cancer-fighting group known as Pink Heals.

Chris Slatton, Jasper's parks and recreation director, said a full day of events and activities is planned, with a special kickoff for those who have struggled against cancer.

He said the celebration will begin at 10 a.m. CDT with an event hosted by Pink Heals, a Phoenix-based group that helps people battle cancer at a local level.

Jasper Fire Department Chief Chris Rector said the group will bring a pink firetruck to the celebration, and firefighters will wear pink gear and helmets.

Attending cancer survivors will be able to sign their names on the firetruck, he said.

Slatton said the firetruck at Jasper's celebration will be named "Kennedy" in honor of Kennedy Griffith, a Jasper teenager who fought against a rare bone cancer but succumbed to the disease in December 2012.

Pink Heals president and founder Dave Graybill said the organization doesn't seek donations, but if any are received, all of the money will remain in Jasper.

There is too much money being made from people getting sick, he said, and the group was started because he wanted to redirect where any donations go.

"We shouldn't be giving it to a large company or corporation who's working under the banner of charity," Graybill said. "We should develop programs within each city government that act like foundations and do it for ourselves."

Slatton said Pink Heals is a foundation that is going to touch home with everybody.

"We'd love to have everybody come out and support that," he said. "Us being a small community, it's a pretty big deal."

The rest of the day's activities will feature a cornhole tournament, flag football, kickball, a coed softball tournament and a home run derby for kids ages 8-12.

Other baseball and softball games will be played, and inflatable slides and bounce houses will be available for younger children.

Slatton said the Fourth of July celebration will be an "all-day festival for families."

"We'd like to invite everyone to come," he said. "It's not just for the town of Jasper."

For more information on the Fourth of July celebration or to enter the corn-hole tournament, call 423-595-1262.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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