Pink was the color at the 11th annual Ladies Night Out Breast Cancer Awareness program and dinner held last week at the Mahoning Valley Country Club.

Chairing the event were committee members, Lois Richards, RN BSN, director of imaging services; Mary Lou McGeehan, community education coordinator at Blue Mountain Health System; Denise Kennedy, public relations assistant; Alicia Silliman, administrator at The Summit; and Lisa Johnson, vice president of public relations and marketing.

The evening was sponsored by an education grant from the Lehigh Valley Women's 5-K Classic, which covered the cost of the meal and the educational program.

Johnson shared information that was given to each woman at the event, such as the "Pink Pack Pal," that will remind them to do a monthly breast self-exam. The packet, which is a promotion in partnership with BMHS and Blue Ridge Communications TV 13, contained information and illustrations to show how to do a thorough self-exam.

"Breast self-examination is the first step in the early detection of breast cancer," said Johnson. "According to the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, a monthly breast self-exam should be teamed with an annual breast examination by a physician and a routine screening mammogram."

Through the Pink Pack Pal system, women are encouraged to select a "Pink Pal," (a friend, co-worker, family member) and once a month BRC TV 13 will encourage participants to call their Pink Pal and remind her to do a breast self-exam. The promotion suggests doing the exam on the same day.

On the 13th of each month, BRC TV 13 also will give a monthly reminder on BMHS's TV show "Health Images."

Johnson said that the committee decided to shake up the Ladies Night Out event by giving Kristin Pedemonti the opportunity to share her inspiring story. Pedemonti entertained, inspired and invigorated the women attending the event and encouraged them to look for joy in their lives and to share it with others through hugs, bubbles and positive thoughts.

Pedemonti, who arrived on a Big Wheel and wearing a pink tutu and pink "hug me" shirt, is an award-winning storyteller, who builds bridges between people through her vibrant style of storytelling in which everyone shares in the joy.

Pedemonti has been named a finalist in the TED Talks 2013 Worldwide Talent Search. She travels the world telling tales, sharing hugs and connecting cultures.

She is the founder/facilitator of a volunteer project, "Literacy Outreach Belize." In 2005, she sold her home and most of her possessions to create this project, donating programs for over 33,000 students and training 800 teachers in Belize. She has been invited to expand the project and will be volunteering in Kenya, Ghana and India starting in 2013. Pedemonti organizes Superhero Big Wheel fundraisers to support her endeavors.

Pedemonti said she believes that hugs will connect people, but that if you cannot hug, a touch on the shoulder or hand will give connection. She also uses bubbles too, because she says they have a super power to cross cultures.

She gave an example that one time she was in a subway and it appeared that two men were going to fight. She said she got out her bubbles and filled the car with bubbles and the men stopped and looked at the bubbles and the anger diffused without a fight.

"The bubbles require you to do deep breathing," she said.

She carries bubbles everywhere, which brightens her mood and other motorists when stuck in traffic jams, plus they make people smile.

She encouraged people to remain positive and to journal happy thoughts until bad thoughts are stricken from your mind.

Pedemonti carries a sign with her that says, "Free Hugs," and ended her presentation by offering to give free hugs to everyone and recommending that everyone hug each other.

The program concluded with Johnson encouraging women who do not have health insurance to get free mammograms, which are also paid for by grants from the Lehigh Women's 5-K Classic.