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The battle against cancer kicks-off

The battle against cancer kicks-off
Just as cancer never sleeps, it is never too early to begin efforts to raise money for cancer research. This past Tuesday night, executive committee members, team members and cancer research supporters met for a rally and a kickoff to the 2009 Weakley County West Relay for Life event. Next year’s event will take place on June 5. “This is always an overnight event because cancer never sleeps. This year, we will celebrate the birth of Relay. It began with one man, Dr. Gordon Klatt in Washington, and he worked all night. He jogged to celebrate life, he walked to remember those who lost their lives to cancer and he ran to relay for a cure,” Mark Dowden, co-chair of the event, explained. “This one man inspired 5,000 communities to join in the cause. It started with one man’s efforts in 1985 and now it carries over 3.5 million participants.” Pam Verdun, the state development director for Mississippi, began her journey at the Weakley West Relay event. She spoke on how the experience had impacted the rest of her life and how she continued to stay involved with Relay events. “The kickoff was my first day on the job with the American Cancer Society,” she recalled. “When you start relaying, you never know what it will mean to you from year to year until you have cancer or lost someone to cancer. Your reasons to relay change every year. I encourage everyone to focus on your own personal reason to relay this year.” According to Verdun, the cancer survival rate was about 50 percent in 1997 and 10 years later in 2007, it has risen to about 70 percent. In preparation for the upcoming event important dates to note include: • Jan. 13 — Team meetings begin at the Weldon Library. This is open for any team to host. • Feb. 10 — Volunteer Hospital hosts the team meeting; deadline for online discount team registration. • March 10 — MTD hosts the team meeting; deadline for online team registration. • April 14 — University team hosts the meeting at Weldon Library. • May 12 — Friends of Hope hosts at Vincent Implements. • May 21 — Survivor Dinner. • June 2 — Bank Night. All teams must bring in donations for the total. All meetings begin at 6 p.m. and are open to all team members, not just team captains. The goal for this year’s event is to raise $160,000. To date, the combination of the Weakley West and Weakley South events have put Weakley County as the 10th most successful in Relay fund raising per capita in the nation. To register a team or find out more information, log on to www.relayforlife.org/westweakley

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