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By Kevin Fox
With Clark County’s Relay For Life quickly approaching, teams are working on wrapping up fundraisers, skits and lip sync performances. It really is a year-long process, in that once one Relay is over work begins on improving the next one. What makes the Relay so successful is the generous support it receives from this community as well as the hard work of volunteers. But the Relay For Life really is like a three-legged stool, with one leg being the volunteers whose dedication is unfathomable, the other leg is the support of the community, and the third leg is our Community Development Manager from the American Cancer Society, which for Clark County is Brenda Carlin.
Brenda is out of the Hannibal office and covers the six counties of Adair, Clark, Knox, Macon, Scotland, and Shelby. She will have been with the American Cancer Society seven years this coming December.
When asked about her position Brenda replied, “I love the job. It feels there is just so much work to do. The milestones that we make seem slow at times, but occasionally something comes along and we have a breakthrough. I also love the people in all my communities. But you have to have a passion for the work, because it simply is too time consuming to look at as just a job. My duties including working with volunteers from those six counties in coordinating Relay For Life Events, three Daffodil Day events and a couple golf tournaments. We also receive a great deal of continuing education as well as countless meetings. But Relay For Life is your community event, and not mine. My job is to support your local volunteers and committee chairman and your Relay chairman (Paula Fox) as well as answer questions they may have. Our goal from those six Relays, Daffodil Days and other events is around $215,000.
As far as why someone should donate of their time or money to their county’s Relay For Life, the mission statement for the American Cancer Society has not changed since 1913, and we know that in order to cure someone of cancer or to make their quality of life better we have to fund the research and that’s where the majority of the money goes. And there are research centers in Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City here in Missouri. In truth we receive more research grants in Missouri than we make in all our fundraising, so that’s a good thing. If anyone has ever had a mammogram or PSA Test those came about from Society funded researchers? So we know it’s going to take research to find a cure.
Education is also a vital part of our services in that we know that there are things that cause cancer such as smoking, and poor diet. So we try and educate the public through the schools, nurses, doctors and cancer treatment centers. A lot of the money also goes to patient services such as wigs and turbans, which are at our Hannibal office; we also have nutrition supplements available at the Clark County Health Department. We also provide transportation assistance for those who qualify, which means it has to be a 100-mile round trip to receive treatment to get a gas card.
Among the things that we are very pleased to offer and one that has received so many good reports on is the cancer hot line. The hotline is housed in Texas and the number is 1-800- ACS-2345. It is staffed 24-7 and when you call you talk to an actual person and not some recording. They can answer any of your questions or concerns. If your question is more of a medical nature then they will take your phone number and a nurse will return your call. We also have a great deal of information on our website at www.cancer.org The American Cancer Society has many programs available and it’s important that people contact us in order to serve their needs.
But I would urge the public to come out and enjoy the Relay. Local volunteers have put a great deal of work in to the event and it should be supported. It’s also a time to remember those who may have lost their fight as well as those who have won their battle against cancer and those who continue the struggle. The Luminary service which occurs at dusk is very moving and not to be missed, and it’s a somber ceremony as we recognize those we have lost, but by the same note the Relay is a celebration of the fight against cancer and the successes we have achieved so we quickly get back in a festive mood. The opening ceremony is also important which includes the Survivor’s Lap. These are the people who give us hope. Following that normally there is an introduction of the teams and local entertainment. All the campsites will also have food available as a part of their fundraising. And of course, you do not want to miss the lip sync contest which is a blast.
And finally, when you hear of someone being cured and receiving assistance through an American Cancer Society program, you can feel proud that you helped either by volunteering or donating. It will take all of us to find a cure.”