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Fight against cancer is personal for Knox

Bob Knox Jr. is mindful of goals and dollars as he helps direct another McDuffie County Relay for Life, but the Thomson attorney never forgets the reason the community raises money for the American Cancer Society.

Knox is co-chairman of the 2011 McDuffie County Relay for Life. Mary Wade Bell is the co-chairwoman.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. May 13 at the Thomson High School track and ends at 8 a.m. May 14.

Knox, a former Thomson mayor, lets his community pride show when he talks of 50 Relay teams attracting 1,700 participants. He lets his resolve show when he talks of raising $185,000 despite the depressed economy. Knox lets his emphathy speak when he talks of 400 cancer survivors in McDuffie County.

He lets his own diagnosis and his own relief speak when he discusses his personal battle with cancer 41 years ago during Army officer training.

"I had Hodgkin's disease when I was 25 years old in 1970, and I was going through OCS at Fort Benning and they discovered that I had a lump on my neck," Knox told The McDuffie Mirror. "By they time I got it tested and assessed, they realized I had Hodgkin's disease, so I was treated at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington."

Because the cancer was found early, "I'm a cured cancer patient," Knox said. "A young person that feels they're sort of invincible has something like that happen and it teaches you a whole new perspective on life, what's important, and helps you get your feet on the ground and also teaches you to be involved in things like Relay so that you can help other people.

"That's why I've worked with the American Cancer Society for a long time because it's a worthy organization."

The event has raised $1,930,089 since 1998.

"We took a year off last year," Knox said. "We kept growing and growing until the economy kind of went down a little bit."

The fundraising peaked at $253,700 in 2008, then dropped to $183,000 in 2009.

"Great numbers," Knox said. "Our relay has been recognized as one of the best in the country for several years. Our per-capita amount was either first or second in the country for several years."

He said benefits have not been limited to fundraising.

"So it's been a very successful relay, but not only has it been successful in comparing it to other relays, but it's also been successful in the community itself," he said, "because I think it combines working for a very worthy goal, helping to cure cancer, along with having a good commuitywide effort, a lot of people getting together to have a good time. People that may not have an opportunity to assemble together otherwise."

He said the relay is a good community event.

"We have about 1,700 people registered as participants in this year's relay, which means most of those of those people will be out around the high school track that evening," he said. "We'll have a good time, and good clean fun, and cooking, having meals together, socializing and raising additional money."

Dr. Dave Ruehle is the chairman of the tribute to survivors.

"We have a dinner on Wednesday, May 11, 6 p.m. for our survivors," Knox said. "And we have a list of over 400 survivors in our county, and we'll invite as many of those people as we can."

Survivors and caregivers will walk the first lap of the Relay, Knox said. Luminaries -- bags containing candles -- will be lit around the track as the sun sets.

"Every bag has a name of somebody on it, a bag given in memory or honor of, and we highlight those people that are listed."

By last week, the relay had registered about 50 teams. "Our goal was to have 50 teams and 1,500 participants, so we've made both of those goals," Knox said. "Our goal was a pretty ambitious goal of about $185,000, which is about the amount raised two years ago. Hopefully we'll meet that, but even if we don't we'll come close to it and we'll raise a lot of money."

Web posted on Thursday, May 05, 2011

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