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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Center for Disease Control Statistics show Kentucky's percentage of cancer deaths outrank more than half of the national rates by various types. The American Cancer Society reports 1 in 3 people will face a diagnosis in their lifetime. Hundreds came out to Tattoo Charlie's in Louisville and Lexington to support those affected by the disease.
Dozens were lined up early Monday morning to get ink done for charity. More than 200 people received tattoos in support of the cause. The response was so overwhelming that all three tattoo stores had to turn away people who wanting to receive tattoos. Regardless of the reason, many shared why they wanted to display their permanent support for those affected by cancer. "It's turned out really well, we have a lot of first time people getting tattoos and a lot of people looking for a place to get a tattoo," said Buddy Wheeler of Tattoo Charlie's.
The event, which took place at two locations in Louisville and a third in Lexington, brought in about $7,000. The amount was an increase over last year's total by about $1,500. In the two previous years, the event has raised $10,000.
These needles are making a permanent mark on people who have been affected by cancer.
"Hospital needles, they're there to help you and cure you; these needles are to help those needles... Needles for needles," said 28-year-old Gary Hagan.
Hagan was one of hundreds got ink done at Tattoo Charlie's 3rd annual Tattoos Against Cancer Benefit.
"I am getting a ribbon for my grandfather, he died of leukemia," said Hagan.
"I always wondered how I wanted to remember him and it seemed like a very good way to do it."
51-year-old Shari Steitz said she has been affected recently as well. She got a tattoo on her back.
"I came for my mom and my sister and my niece," said Steitz.
People like Ann Hall might not have cancer, but due to family history, she said she took preventative measures. Around a year ago, she got a double-mastectomy and a hysterectomy to avoid any instances. She says the disease affected her mom and aunts.
"It's a scary thing in our family," said Hall. All of the time, supplies and donations benefit Meghan's Mountain Charitable Foundation. Wheeler said they have raised more than $10,000 the past two years and they hoped to raise more than that this year. "What makes us really special and unique is that all of our money and the proceeds benefit people fighting specifically in Kentucky," said Meghan Steinberg.
"Where lots lot of organizations go outside, ours stays in locally."
Steinberg, the girl who started it all, has beaten cancer twice. She says the disease affects more people than one might think. "Kentucky has one of the highest rates of cancer and Kentucky, our pediatric rates, we have one of the highest rates of them all," Steinberg said.
Steinberg said she started the foundation when she noticed a need for patient care after being transported to Seattle, WA for treatment of her leukemia. She said a lot of the money raised goes to make patients more comfortable during their treatment. Money from Meghan's Mountain goes to Kosair Children's Hospital, Indian Summer Camp, Camp Quality, Gilda's Club of Louisville and other local support organizations.
Steitz said she never imagined she would get a tattoo, but after losing her "Irish Twin," sister Donna Banker, it was a no-brainer.
"My sister was diagnosed in April of this year and then we lost her in April of this year," said Steitz.
Steitz said doctors told her Banker was one of the 3 to 4 percent of people who had a type of cancer they were unable to identify. Steitz said her 14-year-old niece was currently battling leukemia and she was doing great.
"She will be back in four years to get hers," Steitz said, referring to the age restriction on the tattoos. Tattoo Charlie's workers say those who get body art done have to be at least 18.
For those who have lost loved ones, like Steitz, Hagan or many others, they say it's a small way to honor the survivors and remember those who lost their battle.
"I know it was really hard on my mom," Said Steitz.
"I have got two that made it and one that didn't."
Steinberg said she had a cancer ribbon tattoo herself.
"It's a mark for all that they have encountered or their loved ones encountered," said Steinberg.
Hall echoed that sentiment.
"I have something to remember it by and help others," Hall said. Wheeler said they received a ton of donations from folks who opted not to get ink done. Those who did not want to get tattoos could also pass donations up until the end of the event. He said they hoped to far surpass last year's fundraising total.