JOPLIN, Mo. — As you travel I-44 near Joplin, you may notice a giant pink ribbon painted on a hill every October. Well, Thursday, we learned the history behind it.
“A lot of work goes into it, but there’s a lot of love that goes into that thing too,” said Randy Dixon, Mercy Facilities Systems Tech Lead.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this giant pink ribbon is painted directly in front of Mercy Hospital Joplin, with the hope of making those impacted by the deadly disease smile while driving by.
“The way I looked at it was, and I’ve always looked at it this way, if I can take somebody who has breast cancer and have them see that ribbon and just take that away from them, it’s worth doing,” said Dixon.
It’s painted by the hospital’s Facilities Systems Tech Lead Randy Dixon. He started doing it back in 2015 when the hospital was first built to honor those close to him who either have or have passed away from breast cancer.
Like his late family friend Bae-Bae who passed away from the disease at only 36 years old.
“Just seeing them here at the hospital coming in, and with my personal friend, her sister-in-law had breast cancer, it took on a total new meaning,” said Dixon.
“I usually bring her kids over, and we take pictures and they roll down the big hill, it’s a big deal. It’s just very near and dear to my heart that Randy holds our friendship that close, that’s just the kind of guy he is, though,” said Casi Shaw, Bae Bae’s sister-in-law/Dixon’s family friend.
Dixon also dedicates his artwork to those within his “work family” who are in the midst of a battle of their own.
“In February of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was fortunate enough to have it found on a screening mammogram. It happened to be the same breast cancer that my mother had twice; she unfortunately lost her battle,” said Tracey Spurgeon, Mercy Critical Care Executive Director.
And because of that, she says Dixon’s artwork inspires her even more now than in prior years.
“It definitely took on a different meaning for me; it was even more personal for me this year, so when Randy approached me and said he was considering putting my initials in the ribbon, I was very deeply moved by that,” said Spurgeon.
Dixon says big things are coming for the ribbon, as early as next year, but he stopped short of telling us what he has planned.