Monday, February 7, 2011

Five Questions with Wendi Summers

5 Questions with Wendi Summers
Rebecca Ross

Wendi Summers knows the power of pink.

Each Mardi Gras, she and her neon-haired Krewe du YaYas sisters make merry, with a message. The 125-member pink-clad krewe uses the eye-catching color to promote breast cancer awareness.

"Back in 2002, when we founded the YaYas, there weren't all the breast cancer ribbons and stickers that you see today," Summers, a NewsRadio 1620 AM host, explained. "We wanted to bring it to light in the community."

YaYas take part in community events and activities, year-round. Mardi Gras, however, is their favorite — and pinkest — time of year.

Q: Why form your own Mardi Gras krewe?

A: We wanted to have fun. All the founders are girly-girls, so we sat around, tossing out names. We finally came up with the YaYas, because it represented sisterhood. But we wanted the krewe to be for something more than partying and drinking, so collectively, we decided to do something for women. Breast cancer affects so many people — we have lots of survivors on the krewe — so that became our cause.

Q: What makes your krewe stand out from all the rest?

A: Our pink hair, right out of the gate. That definitely gets people's attention. I think people want to join our krewe because they see us having fun, then they learn what we're doing and realize what a great organization it is. But our members don't just sit back and enjoy the parades. They have to participate in breast cancer awareness and fundraising events. We're very active in the community.

Q: What do you get out of being a YaYa?

A: First of all, pride. Every year, I watch a new woman take over the leadership of the YaYas. It's amazing to see them work so hard to shape our krewe, get us out into the community, and promote our cause. It makes me really proud.

Q: What's your favorite thing about Mardi Gras in Pensacola?

A: Parading, and all the little kids who can't wait to see you. 'Me! Me! Pick me!' It's so cute, how excited they are to get that special pink token, stuffed animal, or a really cool set of pink beads.

Q: Do you have bead-tossing technique?

A: I'm definitely not a chucker. It always blows my mind, how people will hold up their baby like the sacrificial infant lamb, to get more beads. 'Look at my cute baby!' WHACK! I point to the person I'm going to throw to and let them get ready. Otherwise, I'll hit someone, maybe some innocent baby, in the face.

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