Health & Wellness

Hillsborough: Teal Ribbons Send a Message of Urgency and Caution

The plaza at Hillsborough's Peter J. Biondi Municipal Complex Municipal Complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Organizer Susyn Timko. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Hillsborough Township Business Advocate David Kois. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Volunteers tie teal ribbons to a tree at the Hillsborough municipal complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Volunteers gather at the Hillsborough municipal complex to "Turn the Town Teal." Credits: Rod Hirsch
Jane Staats, Democratic candidate for Township Committee, ties a teal ribbon around a tree at the Hillsborough municipal complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Mother and daughter tie a teal ribbon around a tree at the Hillsborough municipal complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Hillsborough Municipal Clerk Pam Borek, left, speaks with Susyn Timko at the municipal complex during the Turn the Town Teal event.
A volunteer ties a teal ribbon to a tree at the Hillsborough municipal complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Susyn Timko unfurls teal ribbon to be cut into lengths and then tied around the trees throughout the Hillsborough municipal complex. Credits: Rod Hirsch

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ  - Teal was the color of the day as volunteers came out to help Susyn Timko "Turn the Town Teal" Thursday and commemorate National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Timko, a local musician, has coordinated the national program in Hillsborough for the past eight years in memory of her mother who died from ovarian cancer.

Several dozen volunteers and township employees gathered around Timko as she distributed rolls of teal ribbon which were cut into lengths and tied around the trunks of trees at the township municipal complex.

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Turn The Towns Teal® is a national campaign to promote awareness of ovarian cancer, its subtle symptoms and risk factors. There is no conclusive early detection test for ovarian cancer which is why this awareness campaign is so very critical.

During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September, volunteers call attention to this disease by tying ribbons in various locations like town centers, businesses, places of worship, neighborhoods and on their individual properties.

Turn The Towns Teal was founded by Gail MacNeil of Chatham, who was inspired by her own experiences.

During MacNeil's ten-year battle with ovarian cancer, she realized first-hand that not enough was being done to publicize the symptoms of the disease. She wanted to spare others what she and her family endured. MacNeil was fastidious about her health and went to her gynecologist on three separate occasions complaining of classic symptoms; however, her doctor dismissed these symptoms as merely the onset of middle age. On Dec. 23, 1997 she was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer.

MacNeil had laid the foundation of Turn The Towns Teal® and set forth certain guidelines for the campaign including the requirement that ribbons be put up in the beginning of September and taken down at the end of the month. She also required that volunteers receive written approval from their towns about placement of the ribbons. She started this campaign in 2007 at which time 40 towns in New Jersey participated. By 2015, the organization was active in all 50 states as well as in Canada and Bermuda.

Today, the campaign is being carried forward by The MacNeil Family and a group of dedicated volunteers.

MacNeil was also a co-founder of The Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation (KOH) in May 2000, along with two other ovarian cancer survivors, Lois Myers and Patricia Stewart-Busso. KOH’s mission is to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and increase awareness of the symptoms of the disease.

Since its inception, KOH has contributed more than $2 million dollars to organizations and institutions involved in ovarian cancer research and disease advocacy.

Walkathons take place in Morristown, Lyndhurst and Avon-by-the-Sea during September, in recognition of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, to help raise funds and awareness to further the mission of KOH. For more information, visit the KOH website at

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