Once again, the American Cancer Society held an event in Thomson which brought encouragement and smiles to all involved, including people from other counties.
The ACS 2006 Volunteer Summit was held Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Depot.
Approximately 30 volunteers from counties surrounding Augusta attended classes and a luncheon catered by Kathy Clements. A survivor recognition and awards ceremony also took place during the luncheon.
"We had both new and experienced volunteers, so it was a good summit," said Amy Johnston, the mission delivery manager for ACS. "Everybody came away with something."
"I've volunteered, working with survivors for 10 years, but I still got a lot of good ideas," said Louise Brown, with the Washington County Relay For Life. "It motivated me."
Almost half a dozen survivors were recognized during the ceremony, and many family members of survivors were there, also. Volunteer Louise Hadden lit a large candle and read a poem by Carol Dunn comparing a candle light overcoming darkness with the hope and encouragement people can offer others.
"Among you today stand some of the strongest and most courageous individuals you will ever meet," Ms. Hadden said. "They are survivors who have fought the battle against cancer and won, and are now living full, productive lives."
Plaques were given during the awards ceremony to volunteers from Region Two, which consists of the 12 represented. All awards were based on performance and population.
"It is a very difficult task to select the winners from so many outstanding performances," Ms. Hadden said.
The Advocacy Award was presented to Cheryl Wheeler of Richmond County. The Survivorship Initiative Awards went to Zella Bennett of Wilkes County, Patricia Wylie of McDuffie County and Linda Westendick of Richmond County.
"It surprised me," Ms. Bennett said with tears in her eyes. "When it comes to getting an award, I think I'm not worthy of it and other people should get it more than me. I wasn't going to show up today because I'm supposed to be out of town, but now I'm glad I did... I also come to the McDuffie RFL every year, because I love the McDuffie Relay, they know how to do it."
The Tobacco Use Prevention Awards went to Janet Cates of Burke County and Fort Gordon Health and Wellness Center in Richmond County; Rookie of the Year Award was Shelba Price of Washington County, Outstanding Specialty Event Award went to Richmond County for its Summer Beach Party, which earned $15,300; the Outstanding Golf Event Award went to Richmond County for the Tee Off Against Cancer; the Marketing Awards were presented to The News Reporter in Wilkes County, The McDuffie Mirror in McDuffie County, and Clear Channel in Richmond County; the Sponsorship Award went to Doctors Hospital in Richmond County; the Circle of Hope Award went to University Health Care System in Richmond County and the Leadership Award winners were Debbie Anderson of Wilkes County, Virginia Garrett of Jefferson County and Kay Kendrick of McDuffie County.
"I don't have to have a gift, it's enough for me to just be here with you," Ms. Kendrick said.
Following the awards ceremony, Marsha Smith, mother of McDuffie County cancer survivor Brittany Smith, told the story of her family's battle with Brittany's cancer.
"Her doctors told us that if she had been diagnosed with her cancer 10 years previously, she would not have survived," Mrs. Smith told the audience. "But thanks to advancements in research, she did survive... if it weren't for these relays that raise money to pay for research, our child would not have made it."
Mrs. Smith said involvement in the Relays put her family in touch with other families of children with cancer, "so I would look at them and think I'm not so crazy after all."
"Oh we're crazy, we're just in our own little group of crazy and we're just not alone," Judy Hobbs, mother of survivor Ethan Hobbs, said with a laugh.