AVALON — This Cape May County borough is now offering free sunscreen from dispensers. It's designed to send a message about protection from harmful skin cancer.

Business Administrator Scott Wahl says Avalon is believed to be the first shore town in New Jersey to offer the sunscreen, strategically located near a beach entrance and at a recreational area.

He says beyond the obvious immediate protection from the sun, "it is all about education, awareness, having a discussion about proper sunscreen, and for which, even the mere appearance of these dispensers in the public for Avalon visitors to see, really accomplishes that goal."

"We had a citizen come to us, who watched the Philadelphia Phillies baseball game, and heard Mike Schmidt talk very openly about his battles with melanoma and about how prevention is really important. And we thought that this would provide a very important educational opportunity for parents and kids alike to have the conversations about protecting yourself when you are out in the sun, either on the beach or on the playground."

Wahl says Avalon enlisted the advice of The Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation in West Palm Beach, Florida, about where to locate the dispensers. The foundation was started in 1995 after Richard Kann died at age 44 of a late-detected melanoma. Family and friends formed an organization to help the local and national community prevent and detect skin cancer early.

The foundation helped provide two dispensers for Avalon. Each dispenser offers SPF 30 sunscreen, free of charge.

"To me, the program is already a success. Even in Avalon, with our public employees who work outside — the beach patrol, the beach tag checkers, public works and recreation —they are all encouraged to protect themselves from the damaging effects of the sun." Wahl said.

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