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Jane Sweeney on 'Paint the Town Pink' - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

By Samantha Puckett/Tampa Bay Times

Coinciding with the 2nd Friday Dunedin Wine/ Art Walk on Oct. 11, Dunedin merchants will take part in Paint the Town Pink, a community wide campaign against breast cancer.

Participating businesses will be open with a pink ribbon in their window from 5:30 to 9 pm that Friday. Each merchant will do something special in honor of the event (restaurants may feature a pink drink, for example), and will offer something for raffle – a gift basket, a discount, or a special item (including a golf cart that’s being donated by the House of Carts). The Hair Factor salon will apply pink hair streaks for a donation.

Founding chairman Jane Sweeney started Paint the Town Pink five years ago in her shop, MJ Fashions & Gifts. She was inspired by the release of Lindsay Phillips’ breast cancer SwitchFlop, which benefited the Mammography Voucher Program at Morton Plant Mease hospitals.

What started as a small event “just snowballed,” Sweeney said. “To have something start in my store and have the whole town embrace it is just unbelievable.” Now in its fifth year, more than 30 merchants will participate in the event.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, Sea Sea Rider’s will host a kickoff event with a wine tasting party that will include hors d’oeuvres and live music – even a bra decorating contest! The party costs $25 to attend, $20 for those who will take part in the contest.

Proceeds still go to the Mammography Voucher Program, which helps uninsured or under-insured women and men obtain critical examinations and treatment for breast cancer.

“It’s something I’m able to do to give back to the community,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney grew up in the area, then moved to Southern California for 30 years before returning to Dunedin in 1998.

“I just love Florida, I love this area,” she said. “I always knew I’d come back home.” Following her lifelong dream, she opened MJ Fashions & Gifts 11 years ago this month.

She contributes her success to great customer service, consistency and reliability, as well as her wonderful staff. “They know what MJ is all about and they continue to give the same level of service as I would if I were on the floor myself.”

MJ FASHIONS & GIFTS • 314 Main St., Dunedin • 727-736-6276