CHATTANOOGA, TN (April 2010) - 'Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back!' These empowering words as cheered in unison by participants at Sunday's 'Relay for Life'Cancer benefit, could be heard throughout Veteran's Memorial Park and the surrounding Collegedale valley. This first year benefit raised over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS) which brought together over eighteen local and national organizations, to help make a difference in the collaborative effort to put an end to the disease of cancer.
The 2010 benefits presenting sponsor's CEO and Chairman, Dallas S. Bunton, Sr. from North American Credit Services and Medical Services of Chattanooga, knows all too well of the real-life impacts in which this disease can turn one's life quickly upside down. "Eight years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3B Lung Cancer. Words can never even begin to describe what went through my mind as the doctors each told me of the diagnoses, along with the less then positive outlook for recovery." states Bunton. "Now as a cancer survivor, I enjoy this wonderful blessing of life every day."
Twenty-five years ago, in 1985, one man, Dr. Gordy Klatt, laced up his shoes and took a track in Tacoma, Washington, to make a statement about fighting cancer. Dr. Klatt ran and walked 83 miles in 24 hours and raised $27,000 for the ACS. Today, 'Relay for Life' is celebrated in over 5,000 communities across American and in nineteen other countries.
"Isn't it amazing to think what one person's footsteps can do?" states Bunton. "Knowing this gives me the courage to help step forward along with other community leaders and organizations, to do our part in eliminating cancer. It's not going to be easy, nothing worthwhile ever is. But it is possible."
According to a report from the ACS national office, this year alone, more than 1,600 Hamilton County Tennessee Residents will be diagnosed with cancer and over 700 will die from this disease. "Those are unacceptable numbers." states Lauren Davenport, a representative with the local American Cancer Society chapter. "However as we celebrate 'Relay for Life's 25 Years of Hope', knowing that this international movement started with just one volunteer. We celebrate Collegedale's first year's benefits success and looking forward to future year's events, to put an end to Cancer together." Since in the early 1990's and the beginnings of the 'Relay' movement, the mortality rate has dropped 14 percent globally along with 11 million cancer survivors in the United States. The ACS 24 hour, 365 days a year call center supports over million calls annually from individuals facing cancer. Additionally, the ACS has launched a clinical trials matching service at www.cancer.or that connects cancer patients with more than 64,000 different treatment options.
Bunton states, "Not every story turns out like mine. Some have had more struggles, some did not make it through the struggle. Cancer events such as this one benefiting the local American Cancer Society, really give us all a reason to come together to celebrate, remember and to fight back."