Sunscreen stations at Essex splash pads thanks to family of skin cancer victim

An Essex family is providing free sunscreen at the town's splash pad to honour their daughter who died from skin cancer.

Dan and Cathy Hedges hope the lotion will help others avoid the dangerous rays that can cause the disease

Cathy and Dan Hedges' daughter, Kari Hedges Yeboah, died of skin cancer in 2014. (Morgan Graham/Town of Essex)

We're getting one hot, sunny day after another this summer and that's made splash pads an appealing destination for families. But busy parents sometimes forget to pack sunscreen.

If they're in Essex, there's a fall-back now, and it comes courtesy of a family that knows all too well the dangers of the sun.

(Morgan Graham/Town of Essex)

Cathy and Dan Hedges' daughter, Kari, died of skin cancer in 2014, so the family is providing the sunscreen at all three of the town's splash pads as a way to honour her. 

"We found out that sun exposure does it's biggest harm in the early years of childhood ... so this just seemed to be a good idea to put these out there," said Dan, who also worked for the Town of Essex. 

"It's just like a soap dispenser that you'd have in any public washroom." 

Owen MacKinnon, 8, one of Cathy and Dan Hedges' grandchildren, gets sunscreen from a dispenser similar to those holding hand sanitizer and soap in public spaces. (Morgan Graham/Town of Essex)

The family hopes this will help families who have forgotten to bring the lotion with them, and to remind people how important it is to protect yourself — and children especially — from the sun. 

"Kari was very energetic and lively and a good athlete and a good student and she was very driven to succeed in life — which she did," said Cathy. "Unfortunately melanoma cut her life too short."

Hear more from the Hedges on CBC's Windsor Morning:

A local family is turning its loss into a show of caring for children. It's making sure everyone enjoying the splash pads in Essex is protected from the sun. Cathy and Dan Hedges and their daughter Beth tell us more. 9:47

Cathy said a mole that Kari had "forever" had turned, and doctors preformed surgery to remove it. However, four years later it came back and the cancer moved through her body. That type of cancer can be caused by the sun, although in Kari's case it could have also been a gene, Cathy said. 

"I think she would have been super happy," said Kari's sister Beth. 

"She was very, very, very good with putting sunscreen on and covering up. She was very fair so she was aware of the sun and all the bad things that can come from it."

Beth said after her sister's first diagnosis, she was sure to spread the word to make sure others covered up as well. 

"I hope we can prevent it,"said Beth. "Sunscreen can definitely prevent this from happening to other families." 


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