Individuals gathering in Plains last weekend for a night to fight cancer with former President Jimmy Carter and southern celebrity Paula Deen helped net more than $50,000 to provide free cancer screenings for uninsured and underinsured individuals in south Georgia.
One hundred sixty five guests filled the Plains Community Center on August 25 for the fundraiser to benefit the Community Cancer Screening Program of the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia. They joined President and Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Deen for supper, comments by the three of how cancer has touched their lives, and a live auction that brought in more than $14,000 in 30 minutes .
“We are overjoyed at how well everything turned out,” said Susan Greene, Cancer Coalition volunteer and organizer of the sold out event. “The venue was perfect, the food fabulous, and the company a great mix of individuals all gathered to help raise awareness of the importance of cancer screening and the needs we have here in our communities.”
Guests came from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and as far away as New Hampshire to visit with the Carters and Deen. Following live music by JT YoYo’s Playing for a Cause, dinner by Cousins Catering, and welcomes by Cancer Coalition Board Chairman Richard Royal and Coalition Medical Director Dr. Jim Hotz, the special guests spoke of their personal experiences with cancer. President Carter’s parents, two sisters, and brother all succumbed to pancreatic cancer, and Mrs. Carter’s father suffered from leukemia. Deen, who was born and raised in Albany and now lives in Savannah, spoke of her mother’s battle with bone cancer.
The night ended with a live auction of eleven premier items, with Greene, President Carter, and Deen leading as auctioneers. Highest bids of the night went for an onyx cross necklace handcrafted and donated by Dr. Connie Blanchard of Americus, a book authored by the President and signed by him and Mrs. Carter, an original watercolor painting of the Town of Plains by Albany artist Melissa Strother, and, in a surprising twist, the necklace worn by Mrs. Deen to the event. Auction proceeds far exceeded the group’s expectations, said Greene.
Sponsors and contributors to the event were FlintCo, Gray Distribution Services, OB-GYN Associates at the Veranda, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Mediacom Southeast Division, Mr. and Mrs. Lemuel V. Griffin, RE McLendon Farms LLC, McCleskey Mills, Gillespie Printers, Albany Beverage, United Distributors, Plain Peanuts, and Plains Better Hometown Program.
The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia is a 501c(3) serving 32 counties in south Georgia with cancer research, education, screening, and outreach. For more information, visit www.sgacancer.org.