Annual Event Raises Funds for Cancer

On Sept. 20th the American Cancer Society will converge on Washington, D.C. with nearly 4,000 Relay For Life Community Ambassadors.

These individuals are volunteers chosen through a competitive process to work with the organization’s advocacy staff to implement and/or manage local, state, or federal advocacy activity and to attend Celebration on the Hill 2006 in D.C.

Ambassadors will have many responsibilities both before and after Celebration like recruiting and mentoring Legislative Advocates, responding to and further distribute action alerts, sending letters to the editor to local media, attending required Celebration training, and the Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Ambassadors serve in at least one of the following positions: chairperson, community level advocacy team, advocacy event organizer, recess visit coordinator, relay advocacy chairperson, active member, community-level advocacy team, media spokesperson/regular contributor of letters to the editor, and regular participant in local legislative visits.

The term of the Celebration Ambassadors began in January and runs through Dec. 31, 2007; when the event in Washington concludes they will be referred to as Legislative Ambassadors for the duration of their term, and continue to work closely with the Society’s advocacy staff year-round to educate their lawmakers and hold them accountable for their votes on cancer-related issues.

The Society is working to encourage government officials at the federal, state, and local level to join the battle against cancer.

With a Survivors’ Lap survivors are encouraged to walk the first lap around the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

When the sun goes down on the National Mall thousands of luminaries will light the way around the Pool during the Ceremony of Hope.

Colon cancer affects both men and women but it can be prevented, said Lori Soderbergh, communications director for the Tarrant/Denton chapter of the Society.

Cliff Parker, a Fort Worth ambassador, had a paternal grandfather who died of colon cancer in 1971 at the age of 82.

“It was my first family experience with cancer,” said Parker. “My mother, though she never had breast cancer, had lumps so often that her doctor recommended a double mastectomy which she had in 1980.”

Parker’s younger sister was treated for cervical cancer when she was around 27.

“She is a survivor,” he said. “My older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and had a double mastectomy but is a survivor.”

Parker had skin cancer this year, was treated, and said he believes it is behind him.

“My family has been touched a great deal by cancer and because the American Cancer Society’s mission is to eliminate cancer I have been a volunteer for almost 20 years,” said Parker. “My first ten years with the Society were in the income development area.”

Parker has been on the Fort Worth Unit board since 1988 serving as president in 1994 and 1995. He has also been on the Texas Division Board since about 1995 and has served as chairman of the Texas Division Government Relations Committee the past four years.

“I understand the importance of advocacy in meeting our 2015 goals. In spite of owning my own business and raising a family of five I have willingly devoted significant time as an American Cancer Society volunteer because our collective efforts to eliminate cancer are so important,” he said.

“Every day we are reading about more and greater advances in science and medicine that we hope one day will treat and prevent all of the various forms of cancer,” said Soderbergh. “But we are a long way from the day where cancer is completely treatable or preventable.”

In the most recent Budget proposal from President Bush many of the resources that fund cancer research are being cut.

The Society is urging everyone to support a budget that continues to make cancer research a priority.

For more information contact your local Society at 800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

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