Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Kudzu Queens,…. Covering The South,……

First I want to thank Shelia Colston and Ellen McGowan for taking the time to help me put this together. The purpose is to share with anyone who reads the blog the reason for these green haired ladies and the work that they do to help fight cancer.
1. Who are the Kudzu Queens? You can give first names only if you'd like.
The Kudzu Queens all have Queen Names in addition to their real names. All of our Queen Names have Jo as a middle name, to honor Joanna Almon Hollis who was the sister of Ellen McGowan and Linda Stephens. Joanna lost her battle to breast cancer several years ago. Our Queen Names were chosen by each of us to represent someone or something in our own lives and are as follows: Willie Jo, Minnie Jo, Cassie Jo, Nellie Jo, Darla Jo, Blanche Jo, Gabby Jo, Cathy Jo, and Clara Jo.
Respectively, our real names are Ellen McGowan, (our boss queen), Linda Stephens, Pam Ward, Jeannie Rhea, Sheila Colston, Valerie Thigpen, Lee Cox, Beth Kimbrell, and Andrea
We also have an honorary queen who lives in Tulsa, Ok, Julia Jo.
2. What is the purpose of the Kudzu Queens?
We are based on the Sweet Potato Queens out of Jackson, Mississippi, who are lead by Jill Conner Browne. We are an Official Registered Queen Wanna Be group. Every year that we are able, we travel to Jackson to gather with other queens and walk in the parade. You may view pictures and information at
The Kudzu Queens literally became a "group" about 5 years ago when several of the members were told they "covered the south like kudzu" while working the flea market circuit. The idea of an actual group of queens was the brainchild of Ellen McGowan, who wanted to not only honor her sister, Joanna, but to be a queen, ride on floats, and do something positive for others at the same time.
We are also a Relay for Life Team for the American Cancer Society, hosting events and parties (we call them partays), selling hand crafted items we make ourselves, (we say withourveryownhands) traveling to local festivals and working a booth at our own First Friday in Florence. We have auctioned a car, and a football signed by Nick Saban, football coach of the University of Alabama.
In the last five years, we have raised well over 10,000 dollars and are well on our way to 5,000 this year alone. Every penny is donated to the American Cancer Society to assist them in all the work done toward research, education, and assisting those who are battling cancer.
3. Are there requirements to becoming a Kudzu Queen?
The Kudzu Queens are hand picked and by invitation only. Every Queen must donate her time and energy to our cause, pay dues, and work with the rest of the queens as much as possible. Of course, family always comes before our Queen activities and we support each other in this. Some of us work, some are retired, and we all have children and/ or grandchildren, and very understanding husbands. Not only do we who are married have very supportive husbands, but our husbands actually help us all they can......
We do have a long waiting list for those who would like to become a queen... we feel the circumstances have to be perfect for more people to join our tightly knit family. We love everyone, and we want the queens to always be a perfect group, but who knows what may happen in the future?
(A note from Ellen: We do have a requirement for becoming a queen, but it is kept a secret. She says just trust her......)
4. I've seen you ladies out and about, why the florescent green wigs?
We decided to wear green hair to draw attention and awareness to the need to stop the horrible disease, cancer. Every one of the queens are either cancer survivors or have lost a close loved one to this disease. We have one queen now who has gone through chemotherapy in the last year and is still fighting to survive on a daily basis. Another queen recently lost her mother to cancer.
Our flashy outfits, usually black, were chosen because everyone looks good in black, and it went well with our green hair.
We love our flashy jewelry and we can never get enough or wear too much. Our tiaras are especially important to us, and we treasure them. The more we sparkle and shine, the better. The wigs ensure that we will be noticed and recognized. We feel the better we are known, the more we can do to assist the American Cancer Society and to fight cancer.
Besides, we love the attention!
5. Where did the name Kudzu Queen originate from?
Our Boss Queen, Ellen, said for years that she wanted to be a queen, wear a tiara and ride on floats. She wanted a group of queens, and when the remark about covering the south like Kudzu came about, the name Kudzu Queens was born. Ellen gathered a group of her friends and family together, and it became a reality..... We have our own private joke about our name and what it means to us, but we do want to cover the south in the way of bringing awareness to ridding the world of cancer.
6. I know it isn't proper to ask ladies their ages, so can you give me an age range of the Kudzu Queens?
The Kudzu Queens range in age from the 30's to the 60's, but we are all young at heart. At this time, there are nine of us, and an honorary queen who lives in Tulsa, Ok. Our differences in ages has actually made us closer, as we have gone through marriages, deaths, divorces, births, sicknesses, and yes, even cancer, together.
Together we laugh, cry, and support each other, no matter what. Everything we have been through has made us better than best friends. We consider ourselves family to each other.
7. Goals,... What are some goals that you ladies have accomplished and what might be some future goals?
Our goal, our mission, is to assist in finding a cure for cancer while having more fun than is humanly possible... to donate as much time and money as we can, and to continue doing this for as long as we can. Our final goal is to wake up one morning and watch the news and find out that there is a cure for cancer!
8. You all raise money for cancer,... any idea of how much you have raised for the American Cancer Society?
In the last five years, we have raised well over 10,000 dollars and are well on our way to 5,000 this year alone. Every penny is donated to the American Cancer Society to assist them in all the work done toward research, education, and assisting those who are battling cancer.
9. It is a new year and Happy New Year to you ladies. What is on the agenda for you all as a group in 2013?
Thank you, and we also wish you and all of the people of the Shoals area a wonderful New Year! We have lots of things in the works, one in particular I would like to point out. On March 23rd the Regency Square Mall, in partnership with the Kudzu Queens, will be holding their second annual Kickin Cancer Event...raising money and bringing awareness, holding heath screenings, giving tips and information to the general public and having a rollicking good time. There will be music, booths, and of course the Kudzu Queens who are unpredictable and you never know what we will be up is a fact that our children will be embarrassed, but we love to do that!
10. And please,... if anyone or you want to add anything please do so.
This note is personally from me, Sheila, and I would like to say that I (we) gain so much from what we do. We have fans, groupies, and people who help us, share with us, donate time and places to us for events, shout and wave to us on the street, want our autographs and pictures, toss their children in our arms for hugs, kisses and pictures, and just generally bring a good feeling to all of us. We have cancer survivors and those who are fighting or have loved ones fighting, come up to us with tears in their eyes to thank us. No one can put into words just what that means to us, and we spend a lot of time wiping our mascara our from under our eyes. All of the queens know the pain of loss from cancer, but we also know that the battle can be won with the help of supporters and their donations.
I would like to encourage others to fight as we fight, and to be committed to winning this battle against what I call "that ole debbil, cancer." I feel that there are very few who have not suffered in some way from this disease, and I would love to know that that can be stopped. After all, we ended polio!!
I would also like to add that if you see the ladies in the green wigs, give them a shout, a wave, and if you are able to donate a dollar, do that too....we promise every penny will be used wisely and that we never want to see another person suffer from cancer.
We will have upcoming information on face book, and we hope 2013 is the year we see less cancer and more survivors! Also, keep up with the American Cancer Society events, and we hope to see all of the shoals area at the Relay for Life. Check out their face book page for information on dates and times.
Thanks to OB's Corner for the promoting, the articles, and just thanks in general.....
Voltaire said that "Every man is guilty of the good he did not do." I believe that message is one the queens carry in their hearts.... Shelia Colston.
Thank all of you ladies for the time and effort spent to helping fight cancer. I think it is safe to say there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been affected either directly or indirectly because of this disease. You ladies rock and thank you so much for doing this. OB 

1 comment:

  1. I feel honored to not only to know you and your works. But also being friends to some of ya'll. You ladies rock in my book. And thank you for all your work. Cancer has visited my family a few differenr times. Without the American Cancer Socity and people as generous as yourselfs we would have less cures than we already have. Thank You