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ACS benefits Butler Countians, says Garrard

Rumors have been spreading the American Cancer Society and its annual Relay For Life doesn’t benefit the people of Butler County.

Not so, says ACS community representative Jessica Garrard, and she has the stats to prove it.

Garrard spoke to Relay For Life team captains, team members and board members on Thursday night at the YMCA.

“If someone asks you, ‘What has the Cancer Society done lately for Butler County,’ here’s what you can tell them,” Garrard said.

“We have a transportation assistance program set up through local gas stations and the DHR which assists patients with gas money to get to and from their life-saving cancer treatments,” Garrard said.

“There are three stations currently working with the program – and a ‘big thank’ you goes out to them – with each one donating around 28 gallons of gas per month to this program. We run out every month due to the demand.”

For the current ACS fiscal year thus far (Sept. 1, 2008 – Aug. 31, 2009), two patients from Butler County stayed a total of 46 free nights at the ACS Hope Lodge in Birmingham, saving those families an average of $115 per day in lodging and transportation costs, Garrard said.

“We also have people partnering with us like Mercedes, who provides cars for their use, and many churches in the Birmingham area who provide one to two meals a day for the patients and their caregivers, along with entertainment and special events for them,” Garrard said.

In the last fiscal year, a total of 274 Butler County residents received a variety of services from the ACS, including transportation, information, “Reach for Recovery” assistance for breast cancer patients and physical enhancement items such as wigs, mastectomy bras, scarves, even Depends and colostomy bags.

“We have many, many items donated to us which we then pass on to those in need,” Garrard said.

“This year, we also started back our Touch cancer support group in the county which is free to survivors, patients and their family members.”

Garrard stressed The American Cancer Society’s mission: helping prevent cancer and saving lives through research, education, advocacy and service.

“Let me say, we are not a financial support group. We are looking to find a cure and trying to educate people. If folks still don’t believe we make a difference, tell them to talk to some survivors.”

The Butler County Relay For Life is set for May 8 – 9 at the Greenville YMCA football field.