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Cancer is personal for those at fund-raiser

May 16, 2004|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

"Everyone sitting here has been affected by that nasty six-letter word," said Michael E. Barnes, alluding to cancer.

Barnes, the president of the board of directors for the Washington County Unit of the American Cancer Society, was addressing a crowd of about 80 people who gathered at Fountain Head Country Club Saturday night for An Evening of Blues - The 2004 American Cancer Society Spring Gala.

Those who attended the event confirmed Barnes' claim.

"Cancer is near and dear to our hearts," said Sam Wright, vice president of Tri-State Printing Inc., which was a sponsor of the event. "It touches our lives and it's something we can relate to."

"My husband's sister is doing chemo," said Mindy Marsden, who attended the event along with her husband, Jim Marsden. "We think about the Cancer Society and want to do something."

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Joanne Jensen said her father died of cancer, so she feels great about supporting the organization.

"We need them," Jensen said.

Barnes said his interest in supporting the American Cancer Society is personal, too. In 1992, Barnes lost his grandfather to cancer. Two years ago, his close friend, Teresa Lynn Gearhart, who he said was like a sister to him, died of the disease.

During his opening remarks, Barnes, who co-chaired the event along with Kathy Harple, said the society has a goal to reduce the cancer mortality rate by 50 percent by the year 2015.

Don and Jone Bowman of Hagerstown were honorary chairpersons of the gala. Over the last five years, the two have organized a variety of fund-raisers that have raised nearly $85,000 for the society.

Some of their fund-raising efforts - such as pay-to-go-casual work days, hot dog days, basket bingo and golf tournaments - have been orchestrated through their trucking business, D.M. Bowman Inc. Others - such as the breast cancer awareness reception Reaching for the Moon - have been hosted in their own home.

"We think it's great that everybody supports these things," Jone Bowman said, adding that it's key to offer events that people enjoy.

For the Bowmans, too, the cause hits home. Jone Bowman is a breast cancer survivor.

Tickets for the Spring Gala were $50, covering dinner and entertainment by the high energy blues and swing band Ronnie Ray and the Coolers.

Barnes said the majority of proceeds from the gala - roughly $7,000 - would fund local programs for cancer patients such as transportation to and from medical appointments, support to cope with appearance-related side effects of treatments, one-on-one peer support, dietitian services and a 24-hour hotline. Around 28 percent of the earnings will go toward education and research.

Upcoming events for the Washington County chapter of the American Cancer Society include The Longest Day of Golf on June 14 and Relay for Life on June 18.

For more information regarding those events, call 1-888-474-3044.

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