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Cancer Society calls on businesses

COVINGTON - The American Cancer Society is reaching out to local employers and asking them to join in the fight against cancer.

Local business leaders are invited to attend the free second annual "Because of You, We Care Luncheon" from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 at McIntosh Commercial Bank in Covington.

Representatives from the American Cancer Society will address workplace solutions including employee wellness, volunteerism through patient programs and Relay for Life, community leadership and philanthropy.

Employers will learn how to distribute information to workers on cancer risks, early detection and awareness, and how to get on-site presentations by the Society, said Victoria Patrick, senior community manager for the American Cancer Society.

"We're reaching the masses. There's a large number of people there. Employers are looking to keep their employees healthy," Patrick said.

Educating their work force can also save money for employers, Patrick said.

Cancer represents 10 percent of medical costs, 10 percent of disability costs and 20 to 33 percent of life insurance costs, according to a study called the Cost of Cancer to the Workplace, the American Cancer Society reports.

"The Newton County community has always been a wonderful supporter of the American Cancer Society and our programs to help cancer survivors and caregivers," said Ashley Morrow, mission delivery manager for the American Cancer Society. "We care about local businesses needs and are committed to finding solutions that will achieve our mutual objectives."

The American Cancer Society is also encouraging businesses and other groups to sign up to participate in Relay for Life, the organization's largest fundraiser.

This year's event will take place April 24 and 25 at the Church at Covington.

Currently, there are 60 teams registered and teams and sponsors are still being recruited.

"Without Relay for Life, our patient programs and services would not happen," Patrick said. "It shows the community cares about the fight against cancer and our survivors."

For more information about the luncheon or Relay for Life, contact Morrow at 706-549-4893.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Relay for Life campaign starts

By Jay Jones

Staff Reporter

CONYERS - The Rockdale County Relay for Life began its 13th annual campaign last week and seeks to build on last year's success and participation from previous years.

In the coming weeks many residents will be approached by the local Relay for Life to give, participate or do both for the annual Relay for Life event held on May 1 and 2 at the Georgia International Horse Park.

Relay for Life is the largest campaign for the American Cancer Society and Rockdale County has usually been recognized for its high participation each year.

The Rockdale campaign began last week with 39 teams in place with a goal to have 75 teams by May. The fundraising goal this year is $275,000, according to Debbie Stewart, the 2009 chairwoman for the Rockdale Relay for Life.

Stewart captains a family team for Relay for Life. A 16-year cancer survivor herself, Stewart got involved after losing her mother to cancer two years ago.

"It's something that touches everybody," she said. "At the Relay, we have a survivors-only lap where it's a sea of purple (T-shirts) and includes babies to seniors. It's quite a sight."

This year, a team from Salem High School will raise money in memory of football and baseball coach Jeff Blount, who died last year. Another team from Peeks Chapel Elementary School will participate in Relay for Life for a teacher fighting brain cancer, Stewart said.

Team captains will gather for luncheons each month up to the May event. The next luncheon is scheduled for Feb. 12 at Johnson Park.

For more information, go to www.relayforlife.org/rockdalega, or e-mail rockdalerelay@comcast.net.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.