Meridian Star

March 2, 2014

Lauderdale County Relay for Life tops in state

By Clay Hamilton / The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The Lauderdale County Relay for Life was the top fundraising relay in the state last year, but organizers have their sights set on an even bigger goal.

    “Last year we did over $300,000 but I hope that eventually we will be a million dollar relay event — eventually,” said Betty Lou Jones, a member of the Team Development and Recruitment committee.

    Thursday afternoon, the Lauderdale County Relay for Life conducted its third Team Captain's meeting at the Mississippi Power meeting room.

    Jones greeted people at the door and presented them with a “bouquet” with green in it.

    “That green is for the money we hope to raise,” Jones said.

    Pointing to a bowl of mints with a $1 million bill printed on the front, Jones said, “Those are are million dollar thank you mints. We keep that in mind as our goal.”

    Inside the room were a variety of decorations, including several large and small foam fingers that had “We’re No. 1” printed on them. It was appropriate because last year's Relay for Life was the top fundraising relay in the state of Mississippi.

    The room filled with team captains from a variety of local churches, hospitals, banks, businesses and industry. Derron Radcliff, Justin Branton, and Gina Conner called the meeting to order and introduced Kelly Doss, the guest speaker who is with the Georgia American Cancer Society.

    Doss was there to bring people up to date on changes within the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society was founded in 1918 in New York City and since that time has had a single mission – “eliminate cancer.”

    "One half of all cancers could be prevented with what we know right now,” Doss said.

    Stopping the use of tobacco and maintaining a healthy weight were two preventative measures mentioned. Doss shared a new program at the American Cancer Society called “80 by 18.”

    “We want to get an 80 percent rate of colorectal screening by 2018. If you catch it early it can almost always be effectively dealt with.” Doss pointed out that the success of the ACS relies on volunteers.

    “You as advocates and grass roots volunteers are making a big difference,” Doss said.

    One of the biggest problems people needing treatment face is just getting to the center. To that end during the Super Bowl, Chevy teamed up with the ACS to create the Purple Roads program to help fund transportation to care. The program was supposed to be open until October but in just three days after the word got out, they had reached their $1million dollar limit.

    The local chapter of ACS is involved in a Road to Recovery program that is actively seeking volunteers in the area to help drive people to their treatments. You can find out more at their toll free number 800-227-2345.

    Doss said that many people don’t realize that the ACS has funded 47 Nobel Prize winning scientists that have developed advances in cancer control.

    ACS also has a national call center in Austin, Texas staffed with oncological nurses who are available 24/7 365 days of the year to help advise anyone who has questions about the disease.

    Doss pointed out that while many had heard that the local Relay for Life was number one in the state of Mississippi, what you may not know is that “the local Relay for Life was eighth in the entire mid south region.”