BELLINGHAM - In a heartfelt tribute, friends and supporters of the late Julia Pohlman, who lost her hard-fought battle with breast cancer on Feb. 2, lined Lakeway Drive with pink ribbons and signs just before her memorial service Saturday morning, Feb. 22.
From Geneva Street to Bayview Cemetery, two miles of hot pink tulle, balloons and banners lined the route Pohlman's family would take along Lakeway Drive to the service.
Pohlman is survived by her husband, Mike, and children Samuel, Anna, John and Michael, ages 14 to 6. She was 43 when she died.
The homage, a surprise for the Pohlman family, was organized by Shawn Walker, a family friend.
"I thought, 'What if we could brighten up those trees for the family?'" Walker said. "Just to show our support for the family and how much we love them."
Walton Beverage donated banners that displayed information about Team Julia, a nonprofit founded by Pohlman's family.
The charity was started in 2010 to collect donations to help Pohlman's family with her medical bills. In 2012, they decided to turn Team Julia into a nonprofit so they could help local families who might otherwise wait in long lines for funding from national organizations. By paying for medical expenses, the hope is that families can free up money in their budgets for things like sports team equipment and extracurriculars.
In an October 2013 interview, Pohlman told The Bellingham Herald, "You don't just get cancer - your whole family gets it. You still want your kids to live like kids."
A couple dozen families, who know the Pohlmans through the same types of activities the charity hopes to support, volunteered to line the fences, trees and street signs with pink. Joanne and David Dionne, whose daughter plays soccer with Anna, used twine to fasten bunches of light pink netting to bushes and posts near Whatcom Falls Park while Astrid Sloan and her daughter, Whitney, put more bows together down the street.
"She was amazing," Walker said. "She didn't let the cancer get in the way of her life. She just showed how you continue to live in the midst of fighting something that was so difficult."
In addition to assisting families, Team Julia helps fund cancer research. Part of the organization's mission reads, "The best way to help people afflicted with cancer is to cure it."
More information on the nonprofit can be found at teamjulia.org.