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McDuffie Relay for Life set for May 15

For Peggy Willis, participating in the upcoming Relay for Life isn't just another walk in the park.

Three years ago, the Thomson Middle School business teacher lost her aunt to cancer. Since then, she's become a woman on a mission, walking in different cancer fundraisers from Denver to Dallas.

Now, she's one of two co-chairmen of this year's Thomson-McDuffie Relay for Life, which had its kick-off celebration last week.

Ms. Willis said that the fundraiser's local popularity is due to the large number of people who have been affected by the disease.

"Many people have been personally affected, either themselves or someone in their family or a close friend," she said. "It's a way of showing our support for survivors, and it's a way to honor people who've have lost the battle, and that's how I initially started."

In February of 2001, Ms. Willis lost who she called, "one of my favorite aunts" to ovarian cancer.

Since then, Ms. Willis' has dedicated much of her time to give back to the people who have battled and who are battling with cancer.

"I didn't realize the impact that walking that one hour would make on me," she said of her first Relay for Life experience, which took place only a few months after her aunt passed away in 2001.

Since then, she's become so dedicated to doing all she can to give back, that last year she traveled to Denver -- where her son works -- to walk in a Relay for Life event that he was helping organize. This past summer, she also worked at Camp Rainbow.

"I just don't talk the talk, I walk the walk," she said.

Between now and May 15, volunteers will be busy raising money and forming teams.

Relay for Life raised around $142,000 last year, and fundraiser officials are aiming for $140,000 this year. It's a number, Ms. Willis said, they hope to meet.

"Our goal last year was $125,000, and we far surpassed that. Every year we have managed to surpass our goal," she said.

For more information or to volunteer for the walk, contact Peggy Willis at 706-726-2244 or Bob Knox, Jr. at 595-1841.



Web posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004


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