Parnassus Books hosts unique fundraiser for employee battling ca - WSMV News 4

Parnassus Books hosts unique fundraiser for employee battling cancer

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The piggy banks will be up for auction later this month. (WSMV) The piggy banks will be up for auction later this month. (WSMV)

Stephanie Appell was at work at Parnassus Books in March when she got the phone call that changed her life.

She had stage III breast cancer.

“When you are 29, that basically doesn’t happen,” Appell said.

Once she got over the shock, the book lover’s first thought was work.

“What are we going to do? How am I going to do this job I love and have breast cancer?” Appell said.

But Appell’s bosses and fellow employees didn’t miss a beat. They told her, “we got this.”

“The book-selling community looks out for its own,” Appell said.

Parnassus events director Niki Coffman came up with the idea to reach out to authors and ask them to decorate piggy banks to be auctioned off to help Appell with her medical expenses.

“Niki came up with the idea, ‘Bank on Steph,’” Appell said.

The response exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams.

“It’s been so fun all summer to send these pigs out into the world. And every day the mail comes, there’d be one or two boxes, and everyone would gather around and we’d open them and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh,’” Appell said.

The bookstore has received about 150 piggy banks decorated by some of the biggest names in the literary world and beyond.

“This is Dolly Porkton. She was made by local young adult author Jeff Zentner. His book is The Serpent King and she’s pretty fabulous,” Appell said. “This one was made by Nashville actress Connie Britton. It says ‘Hey, y’all,’ and then she signed its rear end.”

Some of the designs are incredibly intricate.

“One artist actually carved into his pig. He transformed it into a pug,” Appell said.

And one pig had Appell squealing with excitement.

“When I found out John Green had agreed to do a pig, there was definitely jumping up and down,” she said.

And the piggy banks are still coming in.

“Just yesterday, we got a pig that has a lightning bolt on his face and it’s ‘Piggy Stardust,’” Appell said.

While she is overwhelmed by the support, Appell said what really warms her heart is the auction won’t just benefit her.

“Not everyone who is in the position I’m in has an Ann, has a Niki, has someone to put together something like this. And so the fact it can benefit everyone just makes me really happy,” Appell said.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or BINC. It helps booksellers in need, whether it be the threat of closing or unexpected medical expenses.

“That something good was going to come out of it and something that would impact more than just me, more than just this store. That we would be able to use this terrible thing that happened to do good, and that was wonderful,” Appell said. “Book people are good people, and they look out for each other.”

Two piggy banks represent perhaps the most famous pig of all time: Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. The last line of that book now has special meaning for Appell.

“’It is not often someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both,’” Appell said. “That line encapsulates this experience. I have learned there are many people in the world who are both true friends and good writers.”

The piggy banks will be auctioned online Sept. 25-30.

They will be on display at Parnassus Books on Sept. 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. A $10 donation is requested at the door.

For more information about the auction, click here.

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