Punching Cancer in the Face, One Drink at a Time
A local team kicks off their fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with an event on Sunday. And their fight is personal.
For Lauren Smith, raising money with her Team in Training by running a marathon is extremely personal. Her best friend, Sarah Bird, was admitted to Emory yesterday for her final round of chemo and preparation for stem cell treatment for stage four Lymphoma, a blood cancer.
Sarah was supposed to run a half-marathon with Lauren. It was going to be a celebration of living one year cancer free. They got matching tattoos and started making plans for the Savannah race, the Rock n’ Roll Marathon. Then she was re-diagnosed at the beginning of the year.
Lauren decided that there was only one thing to do: run the second half of the race for her, bumping up her goal to a full marathon.
“I can’t help but remember why I am running. I am running for Sarah, her bravery is contagious,” she wrote on her Team in Training page.
Smith’s team, Committed to a Cure, plans to raise $11,810 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a society whose work they can vouch for first-hand. The first official fundraising event, "Let's Deck Cancer," will be an extremely Norcross affair: On Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Iron Horse Tavern, $10 will get you a raffle ticket and a drink, with proceeds going to the team.
All the prizes are donated from downtown business. Anna Balkan jewelry and gift certificates for downtown restaurants will be raffled, among other goodies.
Other fundraisers are planned before the November race as well. A women’s self-defense class will be held at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center on July 16. The team will have a “Ladies and the 80s” party at Fado’s Irish Pub on July 30. And plans are even in the works for a poolside karaoke night, courtesy of Rob Bean of Iron Horse’s Saturday night karaoke fame.
Another team member, Chris Mattison, can remember where he found his inspiration, too. He agreed to do a night charity night walk at Centennial Park with his wife. They took MARTA down and were in a car with a team who was obviously walking for a child who had cancer. The couple just found out that they were having a baby themselves.
“You always think the best, you think it won’t happen to you. But then I thought, what if that happened to my kid?” said Mattison.
A friend of his, Shawn Hammond, who is also on the Committed to a Cure team, had Lymphoma and Mattison has seen him fight the disease for five long years. Both Hammond and Bird took drugs that LLS helped to get approved and make available.
“Without work that LLS did, Shawn wouldn’t have been able to pull through,” he said.
When it was discover that Bird wouldn’t be able to run the half-marathon because of her re-diagnosis, Smith said that LLS sent her a $100 check in the mail without saying a word.
Smith said that setting her sights on the marathon has another benefit for her best friend, too. It gives her something to look forward to. “She said she is going to come to Savannah. She said, ‘I’ll be at that finish line.’”
Donate directly to the Committed to a Cure team on this page.