Marshall mayor pleased with response to cancer patient benefit

Thursday, February 21, 2008
A number of people wait in line for a helping of spaghetti at the "Reach Out and Touch Somebody" benefit dinner to help area cancer patients. Mayor Connie Latimer, whose office was the main sponsor of the event, said she was pleased with the early turnout. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

Area cancer patients face a number of challenges in dealing with the disease, and the costs of simply getting to their treatments is one that local volunteers hope to ease.

Led by Marshall Mayor Connie Latimer, volunteers held a benefit dinner Wednesday, Feb. 20, to raise money that will go directly to helping cancer patients meet their expenses.

"Everybody has been so generous, as always," Latimer said.

At about the halfway point in the three-hour event she estimated that as many as 100 people had been served, and the donation basket was overflowing with contributions.

Latimer said the dinner would be an annual event, but she hopes volunteers can add other fundraisers, too, in time.

"This is just our maiden voyage," she said.

The funds raised will not go to the Fitzgibbon Cancer Center capital campaign, though that campaign is still seeking donations, too.

The cancer center has raised more than $3.4 million toward its $4 million goal, according to a poster displayed at the dinner.

But proceeds from the dinner will help cancer patients with things like transportation costs.

Most cancer patients in the area have to go to Columbia for treatment.

On the tables at the dinner were pamphlets spelling out "The black and white of it."

Travel costs for the average cancer patient, based on 38 trips to Columbia, assuming the vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon and gas costs about $2.80, would be about $638.

In addition to Latimer and volunteers, contributors to the project included Fitzgibbon Hospital, Fitzgibbon-Mary Montgomery Hospice, Saline County Ministerial Alliance, First United Methodist Church, Cargill Meat Solutions, Country Patchwork Quilt Guild, The Marshall Democrat-News, KMMO, Time-Warner Cable and Wal-Mart.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

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