Locust Grove Middle raises funds for Henry County Cancer Services

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Students at Locust Grove Middle School (LGMS) are banding together to help local residents who are in a fight for their lives.

The school recently gave a $1,000 donation to Henry County Cancer Services.

Locust Grove Middle School assistant principal Kevin Van Tone presents a check to Joanie Whitson, president of Henry County Cancer Services. Special photo

The funds were raised through a series of events held in October of 2016, said Kevin Van Tone, assistant principal at Locust Grove Middle. Those events, he said, culminated with a heel walk at the school’s stadium in which students, faculty and staff participated.

Van Tone said supporting cancer patients in the area is a cause that “hits home” for the school.

“A few years ago, one of our teachers was diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “That organization was one of the ones that helped her out during that time. We’ve had staff members and students that we’ve known that have been diagnosed with cancer, so it makes it that much more meaningful to raise money to help people who are going through that.”

This marks the second year that Locust Grove Middle has raised money for HCCS. Van Tone added that students also released balloons in memory of cancer survivors, and also participated in a Relay for Life as part of the fundraising effort.

Henry County Cancer Services, a not-for-profit organization, was established in 2002 and operates with assistance from volunteers. Its funds are used to provide medicine as well as assisting with co-pays, doctor bills, hospital bills, and other costs faced by cancer patients.

Joanie Whitson, president of Henry County Cancer Services, said donations enabled her organization, last year, to help 65 cancer patients with the expenses of cancer treatment and cancer medicines. She noted that such expenses accumulate quickly, further underscoring the need for monetary support from the community.

“That’s the reason we have a waiting list,” said Whitson. “We have 12 on it now.”

Whitson expressed her appreciation for the donation from Locust Grove Middle. She said the funds help to ease the financial burden for her organization.

“The money does stay in the county, and it goes to local cancer patient,” she said. “It’s just awesome. Our limit is $1,250 per year that we can pay per patient. They can reapply after the year is up.”

Whitson said other schools in the county have been active, over the years, in spreading the message of cancer awareness. Still, she said Locust Grove Middle is the first and only school to organize a fundraising effort for Henry County Cancer Services.

Whitson issued a challenge for others to follow the school’s example by raising money for her organization.

“It would be great if all the schools in the county would do something like this,” said Whitson. “We could help so many more people.”

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