SOUTH YARMOUTH – An oversized umbrella is now casting its shade over Bass River Beach in South Yarmouth.
The 20-foot-wide adornment is more than just a novelty, however.
Bob Kohl, co-founder of the Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope, who is responsible for its placement, said it will serve as a reminder of the importance of melanoma prevention.
“The increase in skin cancer is going through the roof,” Kohl said. “People need to be aware of it.”
Bob and Colleen Kohl lost their daughter Glenna to melanoma in 2008. Glenna graduated from Barnstable High School in 2001 and Salve Regina University in 2005. She succumbed to cancer three years after discovering a lump in her thigh. She was 26.
Beginning in her teen years, the blond-haired, blue-eyed Glenna worked as a lifeguard at Dowses Beach in Osterville. She also enjoyed going to tanning salons. The Kohls, who live in Marstons Mills, have worked for changes in tanning salon rules, particularly with regard to young people who are more susceptible to skin damage from the ultraviolet rays. There is an increased risk of melanoma associated with early bed use, for people under the age of 35 who frequent the salons, according to information on the Kohl’s foundation website.
The Kohls founded the Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope to carry on Glenna’s work to increase awareness of the Cape Cod community to the importance of early detection and prevention of melanoma and to support those fighting the deadly disease.
As part of that work, the foundation has provided shades for lifeguard chairs and sun lotion dispensers at Barnstable beaches. The Bass River Beach umbrella is meant to provide shade for lifeguards and beachgoers who spend long periods of time under summer rays.
The umbrella cost about $15,000 to plan and install. Kohl said the foundation and town of Yarmouth came together to fund it.