In the aftermath of that unprecedented disaster — now almost four full months in our past — it sometimes feels like everyone in our hometown was hurt.
Some just a little.
Some a lot.
Some had their lives upended with an unbelievable loss of home, property and possessions.
And some suffered the unspeakable ... the merciless theft of life.
Some impact was not as obvious. It didn’t garner the newspaper headlines, the radio broadcasts nor the television newscasts, and it wasn’t everyday conversation among local residents. Yet its ill effect was no less true.
And it is still being felt.
We speak of the Bradley County affiliate of the American Cancer Society, whose annual Relay for Life was held on schedule only days after the debilitating storms. Although the May 6-7 event did receive the community’s support — as is a longstanding tradition in Cleveland — the turnout and participation were understandably affected.
Total numbers of individuals, teams, sponsors and other organizations who routinely turn out in droves in support of the endearing event were down. So very many area residents faced previously unexpected demands — most the result of the debilitating disaster.
Because Relay for Life is such a crucial fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in Bradley County, the worthy nonprofit is merely two-thirds of the way to its $300,000 goal. It isn’t for lack of effort. Angela Mathis, ACS senior community representative, tells our newspaper “... teams have worked hard during the summer, but [they] just weren’t able to make up the difference.”
The organization’s fiscal year ends Aug. 31, leaving slightly more than a week to make up some of the losses and strive to reach the distant goal.
Few residents in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown have not been impacted in some way in their lives by cancer.
Most have lost a loved one to this insidious disease ... or a friend, a distant relative, perhaps a co-worker or a soul mate, or maybe a sibling or even a child.
No soft words can weaken the devastation left by this illness.
Cancer kills. It is a cold, hard, undeniable fact.
But organizations like the American Cancer Society are fighting back, and they’re doing it through the dedicated support of communities across the country. Our own Bradley County is proudly included in that declaration.
Thanks to donated dollars raised last year through Relay for Life events across our state, each day in Tennessee ...
— 174 cancer patients will receive help with transportation needs to get to their cancer treatment;
— 81 cancer patients will have a free place to stay at the Nashville and Memphis Lodges while receiving cancer treatment, saving them a total of $10,500;
— $28,000 in research funded by the American Cancer Society will be conducted in the untiring battle to discover treatment options and potential cancer breakthroughs; and
— 861 people will find answers to their questions about cancer by calling 1-800-227-2345 or visiting www.cancer.org;
Bradley County donors may show continuing support by visiting www.relayforlife.org/bradleytn.com to make an online donation; or donations can be mailed to the American Cancer Society Office, Bradley County Relay, 6221 Shallowford Road, Suite 102, Chattanooga, TN 37421; or drop off your donation at Southern Heritage Bank at 3020 Keith St. in Cleveland.
The fight still burns to keep our people alive.
The dream is still as real as the imagination is long.
Cancer will win its battles.
But cancer will not win this war.
Not as long as faith runs deep.
And only so long as hope dwells in the hearts of those who believe.