At Inner Soul Ink in Mount Airy on Saturday, customers knew what color tattoo they wanted when they walked in the door.
In memory of Eleanor Mummaugh, it was green; for Nancy Stockdale, orange. In celebration of others, there were lines of pink, white and gray.
By tattooing an awareness ribbon on his customers’ skin, tattoo shop owner Jeffrey Grimet said he hoped to help them heal.
He opened his doors all day Saturday for “Tattoos for Cancer,” asking people to donate $40 to get a tattoo in a ribbon color of their choice. All proceeds will go to the American Institute for Cancer Research, in Washington, D.C.
“I know that tattoos hurt,” Grimet said Saturday, “but when you get a tattoo, you are giving pain, instead of receiving. It is a healing process.”
As he spoke, he began to cry, as many others had throughout the morning.
“It heals me, too.”
He and his wife, Sharon, of Mount Airy, organized the event in memory of Sharon’s mother, Maureen Govan Hume, of Scotland, who died of breast cancer on June 2, 2011, at age 61.
They both planned to get pink ribbon tattoos on Saturday.
“I hope that by raising these funds, my daughter will not lose her mommy too soon, or any other daughter [will not lose hers] for that matter,” Sharon Grimet wrote in a book for customers to sign on Saturday.
At 9:30 a.m., just a half hour after they opened, about 30 people had signed up to get a tattoo. People had been waiting since before 8 a.m., Sharon Grimet said.
Volunteer artists worked into the night, donating both their time and their supplies.
By 2 p.m., so many people had come that they had to book them throughout the week. When the shop closed down around 8:45 p.m., about 54 people had gotten a tattoo and the family had raised about $2,000. Sharon Grimet said she thinks that will reach $3,000, as about 10 to 20 more people are booked for tattoos this week.
Kenny Stockdale of Woodmont said it took some convincing for his two daughters and two granddaughters to get him to come with them.
The memory of his wife, Nancy Stockdale, brought him there.
Stockdale died of leukemia in 2001, at 55 years old.
The five family members waited Saturday to get a tattoo in her honor.
“It is a great way to memorialize and honor a great woman,” Kenny Stockdale’s daughter, Shawn Franklin said. “She was a great person who passed away too early. But she left her mark on the community, church and family. It is inspiring to do something in honor of her.”
For Kristy Mummaugh of Westminster and her boyfriend, Will Wymer, the event reopened fresh wounds.
Mummaugh’s mother died five years ago of liver cancer and Wymer’s dad died three years ago of colon cancer that spread.
“She was strong — the most important woman in my life,” Mummaugh said.
As a ribbon was tattooed on Wymer’s back, he said, quietly, “I love you, Dad.”
Jeffrey Grimet said he would do the event again next year, and every year the shop is open.
“The sad thing is, there will always be people who need it,” Sharon Grimet said. “We want survivors here, too, and every year we want to have more survivors come out. We want good stories.”