Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 29


Relay For Life has been rescheduled for this Friday May 29, at Janssen Park in Mena, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The final Relay planning meeting will be “bank night” at Union Bank in Mena on Thursday, May 28 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Team captains will bring their contributions to the bank and will receive T-shirts for their team members.

Richie Owens, Relay Entertainment Chair noted that he has lined up an impressive variety of musical entertainment for Friday night including Seventh Wave, Richie Owens and Six Mile Creek, Nick Charleton and Shed West, Katie Beth Head, GTX Fire Fall Down, and Katie Fox.

A special luminary ceremony will take place at 9 p.m. that will recognize cancer survivors and remember fallen victims of cancer. In addition, DJ Double Down will be hosting karaoke from 10 p.m. until midnight.

Beginning at midnight there will be theme laps around the park designed for the participants to have fun and to keep them up during the night as they continue their Relay For Life.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life® is about celebration, remembrance, and hope. Participants honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to the disease, and raise money to help fight cancer.

The event is open to the public at no charge. More than 25 teams with hundreds of members are participating and the teams will be providing refreshments, food, games and fun all through the night as they walk in a variety of themed walks around Janssen Park and raise money for cancer research.

Make sure to be at Janssen park Friday evening for a great evening of entertainment, and to support a great cause.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The Polk County Relay for Life will be postponed until further notice. We appreciate all of your efforts on behalf of the American Cancer Society and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Mena.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cancer Research

As one of the many ways the American Cancer Society helps save lives, they dedicate millions of dollars each year to research and professional training and are the largest source of private, nonprofit cancer research funds in the United States.

Since 1946, the Society has invested more than $3.4 billion in research to help understand cancer’s causes, determine how best to prevent it, and discover new ways to cure it. A nationwide competition and rigorous external peer review ensures that only the most promising research is funded.

The Society's research program is unique in that it most often funds investigators at the beginning of their research careers, at a time when they are less likely to receive funding from the federal government. In this way, the Society's research program plays a crucial role in cultivating the next generation of cancer researches. The Society's priorities also focus on needs that are unmet by other funding organizations, such as funding for the current targeted research area of cancer in the poor and under served.

Since 1971, the number of cancer survivors alive today, now 10.8 million, has more than tripled and the 5-year survivorship rate is now 66%. Much of this success can be attributed to research. Each year since 1990, new cancer case rates and death rates from cancer have declined.

Here are some of the major accomplishments of ACS funded research

1946 to present -- Funded 42 Nobel Prize winners early in their careers.

1946 -- Research program begins with $1 million raised by Mary Lasker-- $2.5 billion has been raised since the inception of the research program.

1946 -- Wendell Stanley, PhD, becomes the first Society-funded researcher to win the Nobel Prize (for crystallizing a virus).

1954 -- The American Cancer Society’s Hammond-Horn study shows the first link between smoking and lung cancer.

1959 -- First cancer prevention study (CPS I) is launched. Data from this study and the subsequent 1982 study involves two million people and has been used in more than 100 other research studies. CPS-3 will follow half a million participants to identify factors that may cause cancer and will be the largest analysis of its kind in the United States.

1970 -- The first cancer-causing gene, or oncogene, is identified by American Cancer Society grantee Peter Vogt, MD, in a chicken tumor virus.

1973 -- Society-funded Paul Berg, PhD, clones the first gene (Nobel Prize in 1980).

1974 -- Society-funded V. Craig Jordan, PhD, shows that tamoxifen can prevent breast cancer in rats by binding to the estrogen receptor.

1990s -- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for screening and early detection of prostate cancer is developed by Society-funded T. Ming Chu, PhD.

1991 -- Society-funded research shows that young children recognize Joe Camel as easily as Mickey Mouse, demonstrating that the cartoon character reaches an audience well under the legal smoking age.

2000 -- Former Society grantee Brian Druker, MD, reports stunning success in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia with a molecularly targeted pill called Gleevec (manufactured by Novartis).

2003 -- American Cancer Society researchers, led by Eugenia Calle, PhD, conclude that overweight and obesity contribute to most types of cancer and could account for 14% of cancers in men and 20% of cancers in women.

2006 -- For the first time in history, the actual number of cancer deaths in the United States declined, thanks in large part to the American Cancer Society's groundbreaking work in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Press Release

Relay for Life Set for Friday and Saturday April 17 & 18 at Janssen Park

According to Gina Lawry, Chair of the Polk County Relay for Life, “The 2009 American Cancer Society Polk County Relay for Life is set for Friday and Saturday April 17 & 18 at Janssen Park in Mena, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending with a closing ceremony Saturday morning at 10 a.m.”

“This community event is open to the public and there will be live entertainment, food vendors, information booths, fun activities and more,” noted Lawry.

“Approximately 350 people have signed up and formed 28 teams from all across the county to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

They will be working together to increase cancer awareness through their fundraising activities and one person from each team will walk in the relay around Janssen Park for the entire event - from Friday night until Saturday morning,” she added.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life® is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people across the country each year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that takes too much.

According to Co-chair Richie Lawry, “Money raised through Relay for Life has two purposes; to fund cancer research and to provide at no charge a variety of cancer related programs and services to patients and those affected by cancer.”

“Last year’s Polk County Relay raised over $60,000 and this year’s goal is $64,000,” he noted.

For information about cancer, access the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) website at or call the 24-hour toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345.

For more information about the 2009 Polk County Relay for Life contact Gina Lawry at (479) 394-6172

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rotary Club Speech

Recently I was asked to give a speech at the local Rotary Club about Relay For Life. This was the text that I prepared.

I have been asked to tell you a bit about Relay For Life. Relay For life is about people making a difference. Here is a story that shows how one person can make a difference.

The idea that became Relay For Life, began in Tacoma, Washington. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office and to show support for all of his patients who had battled cancer. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons.

In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He ran for more than 83 miles. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Dr. Klatt for 30 minutes. His efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer.

While circling the track those 24 hours, Dr. Klatt thought about how others could take part in his mission to fight cancer. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Over the next few months, he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event, known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

In 1986, 19 teams took part in what was the first team relay event, and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield. What started as one man's dream is now an event taking place in over five thousand communities across America as well as in many other countries.

So what exactly is Relay For Life? It is much more than a walk around a track, Relay is a time to celebrate those who have battled cancer, remember those lost and get inspired to fight back. Those who have shared the same experience find common ground, hope and healing at Relay.

Union Bank Purple Onions

If you have been into local banks, the hospital, and many other places around town you know that fund raising is what Relay for Life is about. It is true that Relay For Life is the main form of fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Every dollar raised makes a difference to people in our community whose lives are touched by cancer. The Society has contributed to almost every major discovery in cancer research. Millions of lives have been saved as a result, including people you may know. For those people and countless others, the research the Society has funded is resulting in better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.

One of the first things that people ask, and rightly so, is how is the money raised by Relay used. One of the uses is for Cancer research, but as important as that is it is sometimes hard for people to really grasp that idea. There are many services that the American Cancer Society provides to people right here in Polk County. When cancer affects you or someone you love, the American Cancer Society can lessen your fears and provide inspiration through their many programs and services - all free of charge and made possible through Relay For Life donations. Your donations give those touched by cancer answers to their questions and offer places to turn for help in their community through the Society's Web site, or their 24-hour toll-free number, 1-800-ACS-2345.

Tuesday evening my wife and I spoke at the Cancer Support Group that meets at RMCC. We learned of very positive experiences people had calling the toll free number.

To give you a bit of an idea of what the money is used for, here are the largest categories. Patient Support 20%; Prevention 20%; Detection and Treatment 16%; Research 14%.

But Relay For Life has another side besides fund raising. Relay brings people together and empowers them. We have a slogan. Celebrate - Remember - Fight Back.

A cancer survivor's recovery involves much more than medical treatments - it takes hope to heal. By participating in the Relay For Life, those touched by cancer can feel empowered to fight back against this disease.

To give you an idea of how Relay helps empower those touched by cancer, let me tell you my wife's story. Her mother died of cancer when Gina was just 21 years old. Her father had colon cancer, and all three of her sisters have had breast cancer. She is the only person in her immediate family that is cancer free.


Several years ago, Gina's sister Roberta got involved with Relay For Life in Enumclaw, Washington. For a number of years, Gina would travel to Enumclaw to be a part of Relay For Life there. Two years ago, she learned that Polk County was going to have a Relay. She got involved in the 2007 Relay, and have been involved ever since. Relay helps her to celebrate her family that are cancer survivors, it gives her a positive way to remember her parents, and it gives her a way to fight back. Because she is such a fighter, she is passionate about Relay For Life. She is Fighting Back.

What is happening right here in Polk County this year? 28 teams are busy raising funds and cancer awareness. These are teams that represent businesses, churches, families, schools, professional organizations, clubs, and community organizations. 350 participants have signed up on our local Relay For Life website. Over 17,000 dollars have been raised. Last year local Relay For Life team members raised over $60,000.00. This year our goal is $64,000.00. Right now these teams are fundraising, but the big event is April 17th and 18th at Janssen Park.

Survivors Lap

What is going to happen that night? The teams will set up at the park with fundraisng ideas. There will be plenty of food, and lots of other fun activities. The entire community is invited to come to the park and help celebrate. The evening kicks off with the Survivor Lap. Relay is a big celebration to celebrate our cancer survivors. Over 100 have signed up with us to walk in that opening Survivor lap. We also honor Caregivers. To be the physical and emotional support for a cancer patient is a tough but very important job, and we honor those individuals. After these special laps around the park, the teams start walking with the goal of keeping at least one person from each team on the track at all times. Relay starts at 6:00 P.M. and continues until Saturday morning with the closing ceremonies starting at 10:00 A.M. We go through the night because cancer never sleeps. All evening there are lots of activities. There will be live music with a great program being put together by Richie Owens.

Highlighting the evening is a luminaria Ceremony of Hope held after dark to honor cancer survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer. The luminaria candles line the track and are left burning throughout the night. If you were at last years relay you know what an awesome sight that was. After the quiet reflective time of the luminaria ceremony, the celebration resumes with karaoke and other fun activities lasting all through the night.


At the closing ceremonies there will be drawings for the many items that are being given as prizes by the various teams.

We hope to have lots of people from the community join in the celebration that is Relay For Life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Adam Bender

Adam Bender slips a chest protector over his Astros jersey, buckles a shinguard to his right leg, positions a mask atop his head, grabs his catcher's mitt and hops out of the dugout.

Adam has his game face on. Or at least what passes as a game face for an 8-year-old. His eyes are serious. His freckled nose is crinkled with determination.

It is a cool, breezy Saturday morning at Veterans Park, which is already buzzing with activity. Baseball games are being played on three diamonds within a pop-up of each other. Parents are clustered in and around the stands, chatting and cheering. Players of all ages, wearing uniforms or team T-shirts, swarm the place.

Hardly anybody gives a second glance to the catcher in the Southeastern rookie league deftly playing on one leg.

Adam Bender is just another kid playing ball, which is exactly how his parents, Michelle and Chris, want it.


"I was a little hesitant when we first brought him up here for baseball," Michelle said. "I thought his spirit might be crushed if he got out every time. Then I thought, who am I to micromanage his feelings? He's going to have to learn how to deal with this stuff.

"The more I shelter him, the more he'll think, 'I'm fragile.' I don't think I'll ever tell him he can't do something."

Adam is amazing to watch. He takes his position behind the plate, resting on his right knee.

When a runner rounds third looking to score, Adam jumps up and holds his ground.

He suffered a mild concussion on one collision and missed a practice or two. But he recovered and was ready for action in the next game. At one point this season he led the rookie league in put-outs at home.

At bat, his athletic skill and balance allow him to take a full swing, and he usually makes contact. He hops to first base as quickly as he can. If he's safe, he uses crutches to run the bases. When he gets thrown out, he hops dejectedly back to the dugout.

He's a competitor, and not just in baseball.

Adam, who lost his left leg to cancer when he was 1, has played soccer for a couple of years. He uses crutches, and is a whirlwind on the field in Centenary United Methodist's "I Am Third" league.

He played YMCA flag football last fall for Bruce Rector, who has coached against Adam's baseball team.

At first, Rector wasn't sure if Adam could play football. "Then I slept on it. Having seen him play baseball, I knew he'd find a way to make it work," Rector said. "Sure enough, we put him at quarterback (using no crutches) and used a shotgun snap. He threw a lot of touchdown passes."

Adam lobbied to line up at receiver at least once so he could have a chance to score. On a conversion play, Adam hopped 5 yards down the field and made a diving catch in the end zone despite being double-covered.

"That's what I mean when I say if you turn him loose, he'll find a way," Rector said.

Adam shyly deflects question about himself. He admits that he "loves baseball" and "loves catching," but he doesn't think he's doing anything out of the ordinary.

Astros coach Dan Wyse said he went out of his way to get Adam on his team "because he's a good kid, a good catcher, and what he brings attitude-wise, he's an inspiration to everybody."

Michelle Bender appreciates the effect her son has on people young and old.

"Adam has helped other kids see that a person with a disability can be fun to hang out with, and play with, and they can still be a part of a community or part of a team. It's developed the kids' compassion.

"And if he can inspire even one family to allow their kid to try something they normally might not try, that's great."

Adam tried using a prosthesis but didn't like it because he felt it slowed him down. He is adamant about not using a wheelchair.

"He wants to play ball like everybody else," Michelle said. "He's always had that 'nobody's going to stop me' attitude."

Chris Bender thinks his son's "attitude and energy" channel naturally into sports. "He pops out of bed at 60 miles an hour and doesn't quit until he collapses at the end of the day. He's always wanted to do everything."

Doing everything that his older brother Steven and younger sister Morgan do is what pleases Adam's dad the most.

"The best thing about it is the normalcy," Chris said. "There will come a day when Adam will no longer be able to keep up. But he's had some measure of childhood where he's just like everybody else.

"He doesn't have to sit and watch his brother and sister play. He's out there playing with them."

And teaching a life lesson to everybody who's watching.

Rector does motivational speaking and leadership training, and he regularly relates Adam's inspirational story to adults.

"The lesson he teaches is that you need to let talented people with great heart get out there and do their thing," Rector said. "There's no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle for Adam. He's a winner."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thank You

Thursday night is our regular Relay For Life planning meeting. Our turnout was good considering the inclement weather. We finalized our sponsors and are ready to send the information to the t-shirt printer. Each sponsor has their name or logo printed on the back of the Relay For Life t-shirts that each participant receives. Even though the economy is much worse than it was a year ago, we have more sponsors than we did last year.

It is very refreshing that even in tough economic times so many people and businesses are willing to donate to a cause that gives others such hope. To all of the sponsors, team members, committee members, and everyone who donates to the Relay For Life: Thank You!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Colon Cancer Myths

Five Myths About Colon Cancer

Many times, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Still, it's one of the 5 most common cancers in men and women in the United States. Colorectal cancer is also one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United.States. Don't let these 5 common myths stop you from getting the lifesaving tests you need, when you need them.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man's disease.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from the disease.

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.

Truth: In many cases colorectal cancer can be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts. These tests can find polyps : double contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).

To help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer:

* get to and stay at a healthy weight
* be physically active
* limit the amount of alcohol you drink
* eat a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less red or processed meat .

Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer.

Truth: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US. racial or ethnic group.

Myth: Age doesn't matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.

Truth: More than 90% of colorectal cancer cases are in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting tested for the disease at age 50. People who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer -- for example, those who have colon or rectal cancer in their families -- may need to begin testing at a younger age. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting tested.

Myth: It's better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it's deadly anyway.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it is found and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Team Recruitment

It has been a hectic week working for Relay For Life. Gina has been working almost nonstop this week on Relay Sponsorships and team recruitment. The deadline to get signed up on a team is March 1st. We want to get as many people signed up as possible. The Relay event is not until April 17, but we have a deadline to sign up so that we can get the t-shirts printed in time. As of February 27 we have 25 teams that have signed up with over 250 participants. We are still hoping for a few more teams to sign up this weekend.

Fundraising has started in earnest. A number of teams will be having drawings at the Relay. Around town you can contribute to Relay For Life, and have a chance to win a Wii, A 32" LCD HDTV, A rifle, A deer stand, a BBQ smoker, or a tent. There is a most beautiful baby contest, bake sales, breakfasts, people going door to door, and even nursing home residents raising money for Relay For Life. Even in these tough economic times, I have seen that most people are still willing to contribute to worthy causes. Gina like to tell people "I know times are hard, but having cancer is harder".

If you are not aware of what Relay For Life is; Relay For Life is a fun-filled, overnight event that empowers everyone to help fight cancer by raising money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission. Teams of people camp out at local high schools, parks, or fairgrounds and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Relay For Life symbolizes the hope that people lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face the disease have support, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. Check out Relay For Life in your area. You can find an event near you by going here an putting in your zip code.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fund Raising Tips

1. Donate $20 yourself and ask four friends for $20 each

2. Ask 20 friends to donate $5 each

3. Ask 10 friends to donate $10 each

4. Send a letter to family and friends, explaining what Relay is and ask for a donation. Suggestion: Always ask for more than you expect. Example: If you want $25, ask for $50. Be sure to include a due date to send a donation.

5. Send a letter from your pet to family and friends. You might also want to send this out to your veterinarian.

6. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Knock on doors and ask your neighbors for their support.

7. Arrange a dress-down day at work. Anyone dressing down will have to pay. Be sure you have a sign that says, "Please excuse our appearance today, we are dressing down to benefit the American Cancer Society Relay For Life." You could charge anywhere from $1 to $5 per person to dress down. You could arrange these on a weekly or monthly basis.

8. Arrange with the principal of a local school for baseball cap day. Usually caps are not allowed, however, for $1, once a month, a student could wear a baseball cap in class. Be sure to have a sign ready that says, "Caps for a Cure - you will see students today sporting baseball caps as a fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society Relay For Life."

9. Hold a can & bottle drive.

10. Collect donations by displaying cut-out suns and moons that are available through your American Cancer Society staff partner. These can be in honor or in memory of loved ones.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Survivors Lap

An important part of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life is the celebration of nearly 11 million cancer survivors who are alive in the United States today. Survivors include anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Whether you are currently fighting your battle, or have been cancer-free for many years, you are a survivor. We also celebrate the many Caregivers who have provided countless hours of care and support.

Relay For Life is a special place for Survivors. Survivors are the main reason we continue to Relay. Survivors show us that we are making great strides in our fight against cancer, so we invite all survivors to come join us. We want to celebrate you during the opening ceremony of Relay, and invite you to walk in a special Survivors lap. If you would like to register to participate in this year's Survivor Lap & activities, please call Carol Lane at 479-216-3926. We will also honor survivors during the lighting of luminarias that shine to represent the hope for a future where cancer no longer threatens those we love.

More people are surviving cancer than ever before, and there are many reasons to celebrate. However, we know that more than 1.4 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year and many will need a place to turn for inspiration, hope, and support. The American Cancer Society is the place to turn for help. No matter where you are in your cancer journey, The American Cancer Society offers free programs and services to help you through every step of the way. Call us anytime, day or night at 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345). Whether it is getting you the information you need to make treatment decisions and better understand your disease, helping you deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer, such as transportation and insurance issues, or connecting you with others who have been through the cancer journey for emotional support, we are here and we can help. The many programs and services we offer are made possible by donations raised from Relay For Life events nationwide. The Polk County Relay For Life event will be held at Janssen Park in Mena on April 17-18.

Look Good Feel Better

Trudy Hightower is a woman who understands the importance of being at the right place at the right time. As administrative assistant to the Women's Center at Conway Regional, Hightower had experience with the Look Good...Feel Better program, but she never dreamed that she would one day be coordinating it.

"It was an accident that happened for a reason," says Hightower. "[At first] I was not sure I could do this, but when I saw those women smile I knew I could help others. We call them parties, because it feels like a party once we are finished."

Since 2002, Hightower has been coordinating Look Good...Feel Better at the Conway Regional Medical Clinic. Look Good...Feel Better is a program offered through a collaboration between the American Cancer Society, Personal Care Products Council Foundation, and the National Cosmetology Association. The program is designed around the concept that if someone with cancer can be helped to look good, their improved self-esteem will help them to approach their disease and treatment with greater confidence.

Hightower says that the program is a welcome break from treatment for many participants. "Every appointment these patients have is about their cancer, but with the Look Good...Feel Better program it is not about their chemo. It is a party about them and about feeling better. The transformations are awesome," she says.

A thyroid cancer survivor herself, Hightower knows the importance of having a support system. "My cancer was still encapsulated and was removed. I did not have to go through what many of these women do," she says. "The American Cancer Society is doing good things."

In 2003, Hightower won the American Cancer Society's award for "Patient Support Best Practice" and the "Women Mean Business" gala award in the management category in 2006-2007. She resides in Vilonia, Ark., with her husband and two daughters.

Look Good...Feel Better
volunteers are licensed cosmetologists. The program is offered at no cost to participants. For more information about Look Good...Feel Better or how to volunteer, please call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

Friday, February 6, 2009

Colon Cancer Survival

In 2007, an estimated 112,340 Americans were diagnosed with colon cancer and 41,420 with rectal cancer. More than 52,000 people were expected to die from the disease last year. Colon cancer is largely preventable if precancerous polyps are found and removed before they become cancerous. If colon cancer is found and treated at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Thursday night was the Polk County Relay For Life Kickoff. There was a good group of supporters who came out to the Union Bank Community Room who came out to get the 2009 Polk County Relay For Life started. There was pizza donated by Simple Simon's and lots of Relay giveaways for those who came out.

Kickoff 2009 Three

Kickoff 2009 Two

The Relay is off to a good start with 10 teams already signed up. Our goal is to have 24 teams this year. I am confidant that we will be able to reach our goal.



You can keep up with our progress on the Polk County Relay For Life Website.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Citizen Of The Week

In the January 28 issue of the Polk County Pulse my wife Regina was featured as the Citizen of the Week. The article was titled "Regina Lawry - Running the Relay For Life". Michael Reisig was the writer. Here is the article as he wrote it.

Regina Lawry of Mena is a person on a mission. She is committed to The American Cancer Society's "Relay For Life" - the organization's number one fundraiser for cancer victims around the country. In a terrible irony, everyone in her immediate family has suffered with cancer - her mother, her father and all three of her sisters. She has taken it personally, and Lawry now does everything she can to combat this dreaded disease, ease the suffering of those who are dealing with it, and inform the public about the parameters of health and prevention.

Gina Speaking At The Relay For Life Kickoff

Lawry was born in Denver, Colorado. Her father was a tile setter and her mother was a housewife, but it was her grandmother who died when Lawry was only six, that left a lasting impression on her.

1556 Benton

"My grandmother wold take me to church - she was part of The Dorcas society, which made quilts, collected clothes and did other kindnesses for people who needed assistance in whatever fashion," she said. "I realized somewhere along the line, from her example, I wanted to be a person who did things for other people - the way a Christian should be."

Lawry graduated high school and went on to Union College in Nebraska. She graduated in 1975 and married her husband Richard that summer. She became an accountant and her husband became an auto body repair professional.

"After our daughter was born we realized that we were working so much and not able to spend the time together as a family," she recalled. "So we decided to visit Mena where Richard's family lived. We left Denver in February with below zero temperatures and arrived in Mena in 70 degree weather. It seemed like a real nice change...After visiting we decided to move to Polk County if our house in Colorado would sell. It sold two weeks later, and on Easter Sunday of 1981 we settled into country life.

Richie's Auto Refinishing

"It was a huge transition for me - a city girl - but after awhile I realized I had never felt like I belonged anywhere until I moved here," Lawry added. "It has proven to be a very good thing.

In 1976, just after she and her husband were married, Lawry's mother died of Leukemia. Her father later contracted colon cancer and all three of her sisters have battled breast cancer, so the struggle against this disease has become very personal. But she has seen the value of research and cures.

Bessie Patton

"My mother, while suffering with Leukemia, was a part of a study on bone marrow transplants at the University of Colorado Medical Center,' she recalled. "Twenty years later, my oldest sister received a bone marrow transplant that saved her life, from the same hospital. In 2000 I became involved in the Relay For Life benefit run. The Relay for Life benefits every kind of cancer research and is continually in the process of saving lives and providing money for research, information on cancer, and support in many fashions, including temporary housing for commuters to hospitals, transportatin costs, education, wigs, hats and a lot more.

I run the Credit Union at U.S. Motors in Mena but this - The Relay - is what I do, who I am." she continued. "I am just a little person from a country town, but I wanted to do something to help my children and my grandchildren remember me the way I remember my grandmother - serving other people."

Grandma And The Girls

Lawry attend every "Relay" she can and the latest, closest to home, will be in Mena on April 17 and 18 in Janssen Park.

"We want everyone to participate this year," Lawry said. "We need committee members, teams, and team members. The 'kickoff" is Thursday, January 29, at the Union Bank Hospitality Room. There will be free pizza, door prizes, and all the information you need on starting a team for families, churches, clubs, and employees of businesses. Last year we had 22 teams and raised $58,000. This year our goal is 24 teams and $64,000. There is hardly anyone who hasn't been touched by cancer in some fashion, and we need to take this seriously. Come join us in the Relay For Life."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fighting Back

Fight Back

Relay For Life participants have been instrumental in helping the American Cancer Society make progress against cancer and save lives. A recent report from the nation’s leading cancer organizations shows that, for the first time since the report was first issued in 1998, both incidence and death rates for all cancers combined are decreasing for both men and women.

"The drop in incidence seen in this year's Annual Report is something we've been waiting to see for a long time," said Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS). "However, we have to be somewhat cautious about how we interpret it, because changes in incidence can be caused not only by reductions in risk factors for cancer, but also by changes in screening practices. Regardless, the continuing drop in mortality is evidence once again of real progress made against cancer, reflecting real gains in prevention, early detection, and treatment."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where Does The Money Go?

Since the inception of its Research Program in 1946, The American Cancer Society has contributed to almost every major cancer discovery. As a result of research advances, there are more than 10 million cancer survivors in America.

• American Cancer Society funding of select researchers led to effective treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and bone marrow transplants that extend thousands of lives each year.

• Many cancers such as breast, cervical, colon and prostate can be detected early when treatment is more effective. Society-funded research has led to the development of early detection methods such as the PSA test and mammography.

• If colon cancer is discovered and treated early, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%.The Society has been a leader in raising awareness about the importance of getting tested for colon cancer to save lives.

• Original American Cancer Society scientific research contributed to the recognized link between smoking and lung cancer. The Society is helping smokers double their chances of quitting through our Quitline, 1-877-YES-QUIT.

• The American Cancer Society advocates for stronger smoking ordinances and state laws to protect employees and the public from tobacco smoke in an effort to reduce death and illness caused by smoke.

• The American Cancer Society works to fund researchers early in their careers, when funding is particularly hard to receive. Remarkably, 38 of those funded researchers have gone on to win the Noble prize.

• Any time, day or night, people facing cancer can connect with lifesaving information, resources, and support online at or through our toll-free call center – 1-800-ACS-2345.

• You are never alone in the Cancer Survivors NetworkSM, an online community that connects patients, survivors, and caregivers with others who have “been there” for insight, moral support, and inspiration.

• When the best hope for a cure is at a cancer center far from home, Hope Lodge® provides a comfortable, nurturing environment where patients and caregivers can stay free of charge during treatment and focus on what is most important – getting well.

• Through I Can Cope® classes, medical professionals help patients and their families overcome fears through information and resources to understand their cancer experience.

• Patients need not worry about how to get to and from their treatments when trained American Cancer Society volunteers offer free transportation, friendship, and support through our Road to Recovery® program.

• A free consultation with a Look Good … Feel Better® beauty consultant helps female patients feel beautiful again by providing tools and tips to overcome treatment side effects and restore their pre-cancer appearance and self-esteem.

• The American Cancer Society offers many other programs, services, and resources to help with the cancer journey. Call the Society to find out which ones are right for you, 1-800-ACS-2345.

• Ensured access to breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women.

• Passed the Patient Navigator Act, which allows for personal navigators who will assist patients in medically underserved communities gain access to affordable, understandable prevention, detection, and treatment services.

• New Medicare enrollees now have access to a “welcome visit” with their physician that will result in personalized healthy lifestyle and screening recommendations.

• Cancer advocates sent over 45,000 letters to Congress urging them to support cancer research and programs.

• Continuing to restrict youth access to tobacco.

• Reduced deaths and illnesses by advocating for stronger smoking ordinances and state laws to protect employees and the public from tobacco smoke.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Martial Arts Cancer Survivor

Michael Veltri has been teaching aikido in Washington, DC for 8 years, as the Chief instructor of Okinawa Aikikai, U.S. Dojos. He first began studying this Japanese martial art while stationed with the U.S. Marine Corps in southern California. Fluent in Japanese, he then trained in Japan for 10 years.

The physical and mental conditioning he developed during the course of all that training served him well when he faced his greatest challenge, cancer.

Says Veltri, "Marine Corps boot camp was physically tough, but where most people would crack would be mentally. It's the same thing in the martial arts. You have to have that mental discipline. And that's what helped me during all aspects of my recovery, my treatment, and even now."

'I'd Never Been Sick'

It was April 2003 when Veltri noticed a lump on his right testicle. "It wasn't large. It wasn't painful. It just wasn't right. It felt hard and I waited about a week to see if I pulled something in training."

When the lump didn't disappear, Veltri made an appointment to see a urologist, who ordered a blood test and CAT scan. The blood test confirmed a testicular tumor. Fortunately the CAT scan showed no spread of the cancer to the rest of his body.

The diagnosis came as a surprise. "I'm very attuned to my body," Veltri says. "I have a very healthy lifestyle. I'd never been sick a day in my life before I got cancer."

Surgery was immediately scheduled for the next day to remove the testicle. Then he had monthly CAT scans as part of the follow-up. In July, the scan revealed that the testicular cancer had spread to his left lung.

A Difficult Course of Treatment

Radiation was not a good option for Veltri's type of tumor, so from July through October, he underwent intense chemotherapy treatments.

Since his doctors couldn't be completely sure whether the shrunken tumors contained any live cancer cells, they recommended surgery to remove them. At the beginning of November 2003, Veltri had half of his left lung removed and spent the next 2 months recovering from the invasive and debilitating procedure.

"You're talking to a guy who's a professional athlete, and then I was stuck in wheelchair," he says. "You had to learn to reuse your entire body all over again. You had to learn how to use your lungs again. It was a very painful procedure."

By the end of December, Veltri was able to take his first jog and was busy getting his body back on track. He was checked every 3 months for the first 2 years. Now he has CAT scans once a year, sees his oncologist every 6 months for blood tests. He just passed his 5th anniversary of completing treatment in November.

His Road to Recovery

Since 2004, Veltri has volunteered with ACS's Road to Recovery, driving cancer patients to and from chemotherapy and radiation appointments. Most of the patients had never had a cancer survivor drive them, he says, so that was a positive bonding experience.

Each spring he also volunteers for Daffodil Days, one of the American Cancer Society's oldest programs to raise funds and awareness to help beat the disease.

"I wanted to give back," he says. "I've always been a service-oriented person – whether that was serving my country in the Marine Corps or serving the community by teaching martial arts."

Veltri enjoys connecting with other cancer survivors through his volunteer work and teaching aikido. "If people have never gone through it, it's hard to relate," he says. "Talking to other cancer patients was very therapeutic for me."

He credits a strong network with helping him through the recovery process. "I couldn't do it by myself," he says. "I relied heavily on family and friends."

Attitude Is the Key

He also relied on his martial arts training. Dealing with the uncertainty of waiting for test results can be debilitating – if you let it be, says Veltri.

"Aikido teaches us to blend with your situation," he says. "You're not going to beat it up. You're not going to try to be stronger than it or faster than it. Instead of worrying, you just try to find a way of living in harmony with it, instead of trying to fight it."

Knowledge is power, says Veltri. He read Lance Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, and did other research on his disease.

For Veltri, the key to survival is your mindset. "Attitude is so, so important," he says. "There were some very dark days going through chemotherapy. Everything is failing. You can't eat. You feel miserable. You have no energy. And you've got to be able mentally, emotionally and spiritually to get through that."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why I Relay

Working on the Relay For Life Float

I am involved in Relay For Life for a number of reasons. The number one reason is because my wife is passionate about Relay. She has such a passion for Relay For Life that it rubs off on those around her. Her passion stems from her family history. Her mother died of cancer when Gina was just 21 years old. Her father had colon cancer, and all three of her sisters have had breast cancer. She is the only person in her immediate family that is cancer free.

Luminary Ceremony

Several years ago, Gina's sister Roberta got involved with Relay For Life in Enumclaw, Washington. For a number of years, Gina would travel to Enumclaw to be a part of Relay For Life there. Two years ago, we learned that Polk County was going to have a Relay. We got involved in the 2007 Relay, and have been involved ever since.

My uncle, Delbert Lawry, died from cancer a couple of years ago. I lost not only an uncle, but a friend and someone who was willing to help anytime. I have come to realize the importance of the work that the American Cancer Society does. It is involved in research, prevention, and helping those who are dealing with cancer.

Just about everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another. Relay For Life is a fun way to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. There is probably no other cause that a person can support that touches more lives. Relay celebrates those who have battled cancer, it remembers those who have fallen, and it provides a way to fight back. That is why I am proud to be a part of Relay For Life. I hope that you will be a part of Relay For Life too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Committee Meeting

2008 Polk County Relay For Life Committee

Today the Polk County Relay For Life Committee held it's first meeting of the new year. We had 18 people at the meeting. What a blessing it was for so many people to be willing to volunteer for such an important cause. Last year the Relay was put on by a Committee of just 7 hard working people. Even though the committee was small, the Relay was very successful. We raised over 60,000 dollars.

The first order of business was planning for the Kickoff. The kickoff party will be held at 6:00 P.M. Thursday, January 29th at The Union Bank. We hope for a large group to get things started. There will be pizza and refreshments served and door prizes. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the Kickoff.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Childhood Cancer

The types of cancers that occur in children vary greatly from those seen in adults. Leukemias, brain and other nervous system tumors, lymphomas (lymph tissue cancers), bone cancers, soft tissue sarcomas, kidney cancers, eye cancers, and adrenal gland cancers are the most common cancers of children.

Leukemias are the most common childhood cancers. They account for about 33% of all childhood cancers.

Although there are exceptions, childhood cancers tend to respond better to chemotherapy. Children also tolerate chemotherapy better than adults. But, because chemotherapy can have some long-term side effects, children who survive their cancer need careful attention for the rest of their lives.

About 10,730 children under the age of 15 in the United States were expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Because of significant advances in treatment, 80% of these children will survive 5 years or more. This is a major increase from before the 1970s, when the 5-year survival rate was less than 50%.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Signed up for Relay 2009

I have signed up for the 2009 Polk County Relay For Life. The Relay will be held in April at Janssen Park in Mena. We are just getting started with the organization of the event. You can go to the event webpage here. My personal Relay For Life Webpage is here.