By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
A large crowd wearing hot pink hard hats gathered outside the Three Forks Harbor River Center and ogled a giant pink barge during a special fundraising event Thursday.
The bright pink barge and pink hard hats were part of an event brought to Muskogee by Ceres Barge Line in an effort to raise money for the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center.
The barge, owned by Ceres Barge, was built in May and raised more than $200,000 for cancer research at its inaugural event in St. Louis, said Steve Taylor, president of Johnston Port 33, Inc., who was a guest speaker at the event.
An employee approached the Ceres Barge owners, Mark Mestemacher and Mark Fletcher, with the idea, he said.
“And Mark Mestemacher, having just had cancer himself, was pretty sentimental about it,” Taylor said. “Mark Fletcher said he’d go with it if they could find someone to donate the paint, and they did — Sherwin-Williams.”
Taylor said he hoped Thursday’s event would raise about $5,000 to $10,000, but was delighted when Jan Tran, the tow boat company that brought the barge to Muskogee, donated $2,500, Transammonia donated $1,500 and Bruce Oakley Inc., donated $2,500 for Muskogee’s fundraiser.
The Muskogee fundraiser goal was $20,000, said Port Director Scott Robinson.
“And I think we’ve already raised about $15,000, so we are well on our way to our goal,” he said. “We appreciate very much the donations we’ve received so far.”
Muskogee Mayor Bob Coburn was also on hand, declaring Dec. 6, 2012, as “Big Hope I Barge Day” in Muskogee in a mayoral proclamation.
The Port of Muskogee also sold pink hard hats for $20 donations at the event.
Donations can be made directly to the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center by visiting www.mary
crowley.org. Click on the “donations” tab, then on the “Big Hope I Supporters” icon on the lower left.
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton
To make donations to the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center, visit www.marycrowley.org, click on the “donations” tab, then on the “Big Hope I Supporters” icon on the lower left.