Shades of “Calendar Girls” with Helen Mirren and the rest of the charming 2003 feature film cast. It’s about a group of Yorkshire women who in real life produced a calendar of modest nude poses in April 1999 to raise money for leukemia research under the auspices of the Women’s Institutes.
Fifteen local women, all of whom have been touched by cancer in some way, stepped up to pose for the Baring It for Breast Cancer Awareness calendar, the brainchild of Megan M. Hoel of Milton-Freewater.
The disease is personal to Megan, too. When she was just 16, her father, Bill Hyndman, died of cancer in 2000. Originally from Desert Aire, Wash., Megan came to the Walla Walla Valley 10 years ago, attended Walla Walla Community College and lives here with husband Tyler Hoel.
Megan’s avocation as a photographer was influenced by her father. She shot photos for her yearbook in high school in Mattawa, Wash., she said, and now operates Megan Hoel Photography.
“Early this spring, I had an idea, spurred by a 10-year-old-calendar that was made to raise funds for Junior Show. The subjects of the calendar? Nude men, covered only by their tools of trade. The sale of the calendar profited immensely, upwards of $17,000,” Megan said.
“I thought I could do that. I could create a calendar, only this time, with women in similar scenarios, topless, but tastefully covered by tools of their trade.”
So depending on the jobs her models do or their interests, she strategically placed devices such as a milk shake cup and machine in one image, a big book in another and a bucket full of cherries in yet another.
All but one of her calendar subjects live here, and the other is formerly from the area. They range in age from 21 to maybe 60-something. One is a cancer survivor and the rest have each been impacted by knowing friends or family members with the disease.
Megan knew about 75 percent of the participants, and the others have mutual connections or heard about the project and volunteered, she said.
“With the nature of the calendar, I thought it best to donate the proceeds locally to help cancer patients in need. Cancer research and patient assistance is a subject near and dear to my heart,” Megan said.
The 12-by-12-inch 15-month calendars begin with October 2013, are $15 and available in Milton-Freewater at Carter’s Plumbing, Sam’s Corner Market, Tate’s Mercantile and Carney Upholstery, as well as online at etsy.me/18SF6n6.
Proceeds will go to two local cancer-related organizations and, following her father’s example of helping others, to an individual in need.
Before now, Megan has only been able to give back or donate minimally. But “now that I own my own business, I have been honored to partner up with some amazing local businesspeople, most of whom have their own, very personal story with links to cancer-related losses. In the last couple of months, we have compiled a great group of ladies representing local small businesses, who are baring it for breast cancer.”
Rides about town in a 1961 American LaFrance fire engine weren’t just for the joy of it. Those who made financial donations helped event organizer/sponsor International Association of Firefighters Local 404 of Walla Walla raise $828 to assist local nurse Kristen Craik with uninsured medical expenses. Kristen is paralyzed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, said firefighter Chris Macdonald.
“Local 404 donated the fuel, and guys volunteered on their day off to drive. For eight hours during the Wheelin’ Walla Walla Weekend the crew picked up riders on Main Street and gave mostly kids and a few parents and other adults rides of about 10 minutes each.
“We handed out junior firefighter stickers and special cards that we had printed with a photo of the truck and some stats about it,” Chris said.
People who drove and helped out were Joe Tobin, engineer/paramedic; Chris, Jay Jones, Eric Wood, Cody Maine, firefighter/paramedics; Paul Henline, engineer/EMT; Capt. Steve Sickles; and Chris Worden, IAFF 404 union president and firefighter/paramedic.
Also helping out was Lori Wardlaw, a lifelong friend of Kristen’s and a registered nurse at Walla Walla General Hospital.
The union received consent from the city to use a Valley Transit spot at First Avenue and Main Street from which to pick up and drop off its passengers. A guest book was made available so people could let Kristen know who came out to support her, or to write a note, Chris said.
The truck is “part of Walla Walla history and it is not something everybody gets to see on a daily basis. And I think it is really great to share it with the community,” Chris said.
The fire engine recently gave free rides to children for their first day of school. Four families won rides through a Facebook contest that 160 people entered.
That’s what inspired union members to use the rig to raise money for Kristen.
“We had such good luck with the contest that we thought maybe all these people who didn’t win, maybe they would be interested in taking their kids in the truck and raise money for the fundraiser,” he said.
The fire truck was owned by the city of Walla Walla for fighting fires from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. Later on, after it was retired from service, the firefighters union bought the fire engine, and now uses it for community events. Washington State Penitentiary inmates recently painted it, and after a small electrical fire occurred in 2012, it was upgraded this year.
The suggested donation was $10 per rider, but Chris said firefighters wouldn’t deny any child a ride for lack of funds.
“We would definitely think about doing something similar in the future. There are several considerations for us, such as weather — there’s no top — and availability of people to help out. Also, the truck is old, but we’ve had a lot of work done on it lately and at least for now it is running really well. It’s important for us to support local causes and make sure there is a legitimate need.”
“You may see the truck used at Christmas this year. Last year we used the truck to help Santa deliver presents to a needy local family that the employees from the Marcus Whitman purchased. Our benevolent fund also buys gifts for several local families each year, so it’s possible we’ll use the truck for that.”
Check out the union’s Facebook page for other events at www.facebook.com/WWPFLocal404.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.