July 6, 2008

Cancer Action Network Express to Stop By Oxford

By Graham Milldrum, The Anniston Star, Ala.

Jul. 6--A national road trip will take a special detour to Calhoun County on Tuesday, in recognition of the extraordinary efforts of local volunteers.

The local Relay for Life raised more than a half million dollars for cancer research, care, prevention and detection this year, breaking the record for the American Cancer Society's six-state Mid-South Division. Warren Stiegman, the committee chair of the Calhoun County Relay for Life, said the event also made the most money for a single relay in the region this year.

This drew the ACS Cancer Action Network Express to the community, where it will be at Oxford Lake Park on Tuesday from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Stiegman said he originally only expected 50 people to show up, and now he has more than 100 children showing up, plus adults.

The primary activity for visitors is signing the bus. Signatures are made with black markers on the body of the vehicle, even over some of the windows. So many signatures have been collected that the sides have needed replacement multiple times.

There is also an area to sign up for the ACS and make donations, a chance to buy T-shirts and pins, and a Picture a Cure. Picture a Cure is where visitors have their pictures taken and then write their comments about their experiences with cancer. These are then sent electronically to members of Congress.

The collected sides of the bus will be presented in Washington as part of ACS CAN's petition for additional funding for cancer problems. Federal funding provides for more than research -- it is also used for a variety of care options and prevention measures.

The ACS CAN is a non-partisan group, focusing its efforts on the lawmakers and not endorsing candidates for elected office. ACS CAN cites pressure on the U.S. House of Representatives that resulted in increased funding as evidence of its effectiveness. The National Cancer Institute is receiving $4.9 billion this fiscal year, a very slight gain over last year. ACS CAN says that will cut into numerous life-saving research and prevention programs, increasing risks for Americans.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, is a cancer survivor and a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, where he serves on the subcommittee that deals with health issues.

"With adequate funding, these specialized institutes will be able to continue to carry out cutting-edge research on disease treatment and, perhaps more importantly, prevention," Shelby said.

Since the ACS does not engage in advocacy, it created the ACS CAN program to allow the group's views to be expressed in Congress.

The bus is making a six-month trip, which will end on Election Day, Nov. 4.

About Graham Milldrum Graham Milldrum is a reporter for The Star. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.


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