Making a stop at the local Wawa was always a perfunctory ritual for five West Chester women who, in late 2006, were reeling from the death of former classmate Maria Whitehead, a victim of melanoma skin cancer. So as a testament to their friend, they turned their morning coffee run into an extensive effort to increase awareness of melanoma and raise money to fund research for a cure. Deeming their project “Wawa 2010,” Emily Koch, Ann Wuetig, Mary Speer, Jill Fitzpatrick and Andi Sasin vowed to visit every Wawa in the country by 2010, making purchases at each.
While the women haven’t received any official financial commitment from Wawa’s corporate headquarters, the aim is to have the company match their spending through a donation in Whitehead’s name to the Melanoma International Foundation. So far, the Wawa 2010 group has made its way to more than 450 of the 600 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.
However peculiar the initiative may seem, the members are serious about what they’re doing. “The unusualness of our mission piques interest, which is a good starting point to address a larger battle,” says Fitzpatrick of the project’s potential for success.
Once they’ve completed their task, the friends will continue to advocate awareness-but not before celebrating their massive achievement with (what else?) a trip to Wawa. To track Wawa 2010’s progress and see which stores the group has visited, visit wawa2010.blogspot.com.