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Oceanside restaurant owner paints wall pink

Sole's Dennis Durdaller and Susan Ferno stand next

Sole's Dennis Durdaller and Susan Ferno stand next to the restaurant's pink wall, which was painted to raise awareness about breast cancer. (Nov. 4, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Dennis Durdaller stared at his pink wall as passersby gawked at the new eye-catcher on Merle Avenue.

Durdaller, managing partner of Solé at the corner of Merle and Oceanside avenues, and Susan Ferno, a server at the restaurant, had been planning to do something for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One night, after locking up, Durdaller passed the plain cement wall facing Merle Avenue and said, “I’m gonna paint it pink.”

But after he was done painting, he felt more was needed.

Durdaller teamed up with Hewlett House, a nonprofit dedicated to the support and education of women with breast cancer, and gave out ribbons, pins and other items for a minimum $1 donation. He also asked customers to sign the wall for a donation, bringing in a total of about $3,000 for Hewlett House.

“We kind of always wanted to do something for charity,” said Durdaller of the restaurant, which has been open for 11 years. “When we first put it up it was just a big pink wall. People were kind of shocked by it but once they heard [what it was for] customers thought it was a great idea.”

Ferno, 58, is a 17-year breast cancer survivor from Oceanside who welcomes the opportunity to encourage other women by talking about her fight. Throughout October she shared her story with several survivors and women struggling with the disease who visited the wall.

“I'll hear people talking at the tables [about dealing with breast cancer] and I'll stop dead in my tracks,” said Ferno, who later added, “I felt honored -- like I could do my part. I had so much help 17 years ago when I went through this.”

Although the fundraiser is over, Solé will leave the Merle Avenue wall as it stands until another idea for a charity comes up. Durdaller added that next October the wall will get a fresh coat of pink to repeat the breast cancer fundraising.

“It was out there to catch people's attention,” he said. “I want it to become a symbol for women that there's hope out there.”

Above, Dennis Durdaller and Susan Ferno stand next to the restaurant's pink wall. (Nov. 4, 2011)

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