2010-06-18 / News

Hat Day in the Sun could save your l ife

By Julia Rogers Hook

Tina Johnson of Over the Top prepares hats to give away for the third annual Hat Day. Tina Johnson of Over the Top prepares hats to give away for the third annual Hat Day. We’ve all at one time or another stayed too long at the beach, lake, or pool and gotten too much sun then suffered through an agonizing sunburn for the next three or four days. Or we’ve had the familiar “Rudolph” nose because the often forgotten and unprotected nose gets the most sun on the face. Too much sun can cause skin cancer.

That’s why Tina Johnson, owner of Over the Top, a boutique in Ridgeway that specializes in hats, is joining with The Headwear Association to participate in the third annual Hat Day in the Sun Friday, June 18. This is an event geared toward educating the public against the effects of the harsh UV rays and Over the Top will be giving away 100 hats to the public.

Johnson said the hats will shade the face while people are in the sun.

“We hope the people who receive these hats will wear them, and know the hats were given out of love,” Johnson said. “The effort we’re making to educate the public on the benefits of wearing a hat is important because skin cancer can be deadly.”

One of Johnson’s co–sponsors, Rhonda Sparks is the founder of UV Skinz Inc. and has donated many of the hats that will be given away. Sparks started her non–profit foundation that promotes skin care and UV protective clothing to honor her husband who died from skin cancer at the age of 32. Her organization will also be giving out booklets containing information about protection from the sun.

Johnson said she is grateful to Sparks for her generous donations and Carole Amper from Toucan Hats who donated hats at a discount and Ann Watkins from Helping Hearts who bought many of the hats to be given away.

“Ann called me with an interesting story about her shopping spree,” Johnson said. “She was in line with a bunch of hats to buy and a man remarked that she must really like hats. She explained about our Day in the Sun project and the man got emotional and thanked her. He told her his wife had died of skin cancer, and he wished she had known about how hats can protect you.”

Hat Day in the Sun has gained significant traction over the past two years and will again be featured nationally on the CBS “Morning Show” in New York on June 15. Over the Top is the only boutique in the south participating in the program, Johnson said.

“That’s really ironic that we are the only ones since the south is such a hot climate,” she said. “Last year we distributed close to 3,000 wide–brimmed hats in 12 cities and educated thousands of future customers about the benefits of wearing a hat,” Johnson said. “With good public participation, we can double that this year.”

Over the Top is a located in Ridgeway, just north of Blythewood. The address is 115 S. Palmer St. and the phone number is 803-337- 2427. The event begins at 1 p.m.

“Every woman feels pretty in a hat,” Johnson said. “But this isn’t just about feeling pretty. It’s also about maybe saving your life.”

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