Friday, August 27, 2010

TOP STORY > >Lucky the Pig returns to owners

Leader staff writer

Lucky the Pig is back home this week at the Bar-B-Que Shack in Jacksonville after the cherished statue was released by “pignappers.”

Approximately $2,500 in ransom donations was raised. All the money is going to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation for research and awareness.

Late last week, the captors dropped Lucky off at the front door of city hall after being taken away for two months.

Saturday, a parade of 25 motorcycles thundered through Jacksonville. They led Lucky, who was atop a fire truck, to Arkansas Outdoor Power Equipment, on South Hwy. 161, where the business was having its 10-year anniversary celebration.

Lucky was then reunited with Gary and Pat Green, owners of the Bar-B-Que Shack. Patrick Thomas, owner of Arkansas Outdoor Power Equipment, was an “investigator” during the heist. When Lucky was returned last week he asked police to cease the search for the “pignappers.” The captors remain unknown, but Lucky was unharmed.

“I just delivered it to the rightful owners,” Mayor Gary Fletcher said.

Escorting Lucky during the parade were Jacksonville Fire Captain Dewey Coy, Pat Green, her sister, Georgia Lewis of north Pulaski County, and Diane Counts of Little Rock. Lewis and Counts are both battling an aggressive breast cancer known as triple negative.

The statue was a gift Lewis gave Green back in 1997.

Lewis has finished seven rounds of chemotherapy, the last was on Aug. 11. She starts radiation at the end of the month. She said the search for Lucky has been therapeutic.

“We are thrilled to have Lucky back. He has gone beyond the call of duty to help us in endeavors for triple-negative research.

We can’t get money for research without awareness,” Lewis said.

Counts, who rode with Lucky in the parade, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36. She finished a year of treatment for breast cancer. Then 10 weeks later, cancer came back. It is in her chest wall, liver and in the lymph nodes of her chest.

“We need to find out what is fueling this cancer. Our prognosis is poor. Our treatment is chemotherapy and radiation,” Counts said.

While Lucky was held captive, Thomas created a website for Lucky fans to follow where the “pigknappers” had taken the statue.

Lucky was photographed at several Jacksonville and Cabot businesses. Lucky traveled to Little Rock, Hot Springs and up to Fayetteville.

Thomas said Lucky will be involved with future fundraising efforts for breast-cancer research.

“We’re not done, Lucky is going to retire for a short time,” he said.

Thomas said, “This is going be something annual, every year with a parade,” he said.

He believed this was one of Jacksonville’s first parades supporting cancer research.