A dozen painted pumpkins disappeared from a cancer fundraising event in Knoxville this week

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Dee Lockwood-Hicks was ready to beat last year's fundraising goal.

Each year, the owner of Sweet Pea in Bearden hosts a pumpkin painting event to raise money for Cancer Support Community. This year, she hoped to raise $1,500 from selling the pumpkins.

"It's the not the most money they make, but its great exposure -- people see the pink pumpkins driving by," Lockwood-Hicks said.

When she left the store Monday night, the pumpkins were still on display outside. Some sat on a bench, others spread through the hay. A large banner sign explained the fundraising purpose.

Tuesday morning, most of pumpkins were gone. She even found one smashed, down the street.

"It was at least a dozen," Lockwood-Hicks said. "And with an average donation of $25 to $35 a pumpkin, that's several hundred dollars we wont be able to donate to the Cancer Support Community."

CSC offers support services for people diagnosed with cancer, as well as their families.

"It's disappointing," said Beth Hammil, executive director of CSC. "It was such a good and wholesome event for families, and it was just disappointing that somebody would vandalize and take them."

Lockwood-Hicks said there was nothing else missing from the store, and she doesn't plan to file a report for the missing pumpkins.

"What value do they have to somebody, except to the people it means something to?" she said.

However, it does mean something to her. The third year of the fundraiser also marks the third anniversary of when she got her own cancer diagnosis.

"The whole paint-your-pumpkin thing started as a way for me to give something back for all the support that I was given when I was going through my treatment," she said.

She beat her cancer, and she's not giving up on her fundraiser. Several pumpkins without paint were left behind and she plans to have them painted this week.

She just hopes more people will learn about CSC, and what they can do to help.

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