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(Enlarge) The Power of Pink is a glossy Lincoln Town Car Executive Series stretch limousine, and she’s doing her bit to help cancer patients in the fight of their lives. (Matt Button | Aegis staff)

She’s pink, with long black eyelashes.

She’s 26 feet long from bumper to bumper and comes equipped with three LED screen TVs, CD and DVD players, fiber optic lighting and state-of-the-art Surround Sound stereo. The Power of Pink is a glossy Lincoln Town Car Executive Series stretch limousine, and she’s doing her bit to help cancer patients in the fight of their lives.

Barbara and Mike Ballard own Hire Quality Limousines in Fallston. In February, they painted one of their stretch limos bright pink and set up an agreement with the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation to donate 10 percent of Pink’s base rental fees to its Cancer LifeNet programs. The liaison with UCHF was made through the suggestion of Dick Streett, a member of the board. He had called to arrange a ride to the airport.

“Cancer touches a lot of us,” Mike Ballard said. “Everybody in the county and the community has helped us. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community.”

“My sister Joanne is a breast cancer survivor of 20 years,” Barbara Ballard said. “My father died of lung cancer, and a niece, Sherree, died with lung cancer. My grandmother on my father’s side died from breast cancer.

Cancer LifeNet, which began operations in 2006, provides support groups for those diagnosed with cancer, in treatment, in remission, or suffering a recurrence. Special groups for children and friends of cancer patients are offered as well. Nurse Navigators help guide patients through treatment and its inherent challenges.

“Cancer affects a person on so many levels - physically, emotionally, physically, socially and financially. We help with practical challenges by helping people find resources,” Patsy Astarita, Oncology Supportive Care Coordinator and community Liaison for Cancer LifeNet, said.

“Residents of Harford or western Cecil County don’t have to be getting services here to get help from Cancer LifeNet,” Ken Ferrara, Vice President and Executive Director of Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation, said. “The Cancer LifeNet programs are mostly funded through philanthropy. We are grateful for the opportunity the people at the pink limo provide Upper Chesapeake in terms of the philanthropy we will receive from the base rentals.

“We always look forward to partnering with people in the community to achieve our goals here,” he said. “We raise funds for Cancer LifeNet through a variety of means-individual giving, events such as an annual golf outing and a biennial gala. We partner with Chesapeake Cancer Alliance, a group of women who pledged $500,000 over five years. Kathy Welch is their current president.”

Ferrara noted that Upper Chesapeake Health is planning to build a Cancer Center on campus, which may be operational as early as late 2013 or early 2014.

The Ballards got into the limo business in 1997 as a way to increase family income. They both already worked other jobs.

“A friend who drove for another limo company told me that the owner was selling a 1992 white Lincoln Town Car six-passenger limo for $15,000,” said Mike Ballard. “We bought it.”

The timing was good because it was near prom season, but the Yellow Pages had already come out for the year, and advertising was necessarily word of mouth. And there were other problems.

“Our very first job was to give my granddaughter, Trinity Grace Hall, Baby’s First Ride Home from St. Joseph Hospital,” he recalled. “My transmission broke down and we couldn’t get her.”

The grandparents have since made it up to Grace by giving her several limo rides.

“Our second job was with our son Jeff Hall driving on Reckord Road when two deer ran into the driver’s side and did $4,800 damage. The limo was still drivable, so he picked up my cousin, Shannon Skopp, who was celebrating her 21st birthday. The same day she was in a volleyball tournament and got hit in the face with a ball and got two black eyes,” he said. “She still went out.”

Despite a less than stellar start, Hire Quality Limousines has built a solid customer base and increased its fleet to include two Lincoln Town Cars, a

Ford Excursion, two stretch limos, a nine-passenger mini bus, an 18-passenger limo bus, and a 21-passenger shuttle bus.

Two of their chauffeurs have been honored for extraordinary service. Rich Ferracci was named Limousine Digest Chauffeur of the Year in 2004, and Joseph Fell was honored in 2005. Mike Ballard has served as president of Maryland Limousine Association for four years and has been on their board since 1999.

Hire Quality operates out of the Ballard home.

“The good thing about having your business in your home is that when you put your feet on the ground in the morning, you are at work,” Mike Ballard said. “The bad thing is that when you put your feet on the ground in the morning, you are at work.”
“We get calls. It never stops. Our phone is never shut off,” his wife said.

Hire Quality vehicles have traveled to Super Bowls in Atlanta, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami, where they transported celebrities such as Michael Douglas, LeBron James and members of ‘N Sync. Charlie Daniels sang “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in the front seat of their Ford Excursion.

Locally, they have transported the likes of Lil Wayne and Larry the Cable Guy.

“Ninety percent of our business is the general public going out for a nice evening and they want to make it special,” Mike Ballard said.
Hire Quality also provides professional ground transportation for Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Army Research Lab and companies coming in because of BRAC.

The Power of Pink was created after a call from a friend, Joanna Fridinger, owner of The Limo Lady in Carney. In late December, she had painted one of her limos pink and decided to donate part of the rental proceeds to St. Joseph Cancer Center, where her sister Janice had been treated.

But there were so many calls for Pink with a Purpose that she wanted to be able to direct overflow demand to the Ballards.

“We want to give kudos to Fork Auto Body, who painted the car, for affording us the chance to create The Power of Pink,” said Barbara Ballard, who added that a video showing the painting of the pink limo can be seen on the website,

The long, black eyelashes framing the headlights of Pink were suggested by chauffeur Joseph Fell, who found them on Barbara Ballard added her own special touch, an “eyeliner” of white gems above the eyelashes. Pink’s chauffeur always wears a pink satin tie.

“I was parked at Harford Mall one Saturday in the pink limo,” Mike Ballard said. “People were staring at it, and we had people pull off Bel Air Road to take pictures and ask for business cards.”

“It’s a moving billboard,” his wife agreed.

The Ballards, who enjoyed riding in a stretch limo at their own wedding at the old St. Mark’s church in Fallston, still like going out for special occasions in style. Needless to say, they have their choice of vehicle and chauffeur.

“Barbara and I have always enjoyed people,” Mike Ballard said. “That’s part of why we love this business so much. This is our life now, and we love it.”

“We even named our dogs after the cars,” said Barbara. “The first yellow Lab is Lincoln. The chocolate Lab is Cadillac. The newest black Lab is

Daisy [after the movie, “Driving Miss Daisy”].”

Once again, prom season is approaching.

“Prom season is like New Year’s Eve for a month,” Mike Ballard said.

Nodding toward The Power of Pink, he added, “She’s available for prom season.”

user comments (1)

user thelimolady says...

Very nice article Barb and Mike!




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