On Sunday, Aug. 18, survivors, patients, donors, caregivers, oncologists and nurse practitioners will line Lake Chapman at Sandy Creek Park to cheer on the swimmers competing in the 10th annual Tri to Beat Cancer triathlon. The race is meant to raise money to alleviate the financial burdens that cancer patients face.
According to Haley Avery, the event coordinator for Northeast chapter for The Cancer Foundation over 1,000 athletes and volunteers have already donated and committed to participate. Combining local athlete’s passion for physical activity and philanthropy, The Cancer Foundation’s Tri to Beat Cancer will make a splash in the community.
The Tri to Beat Cancer is the only outdoor triathlon hosted in Athens and has already raised $800,000 for people in need. Offering an “a la carte” option allowing participants to solely swim, bike or run, Laura Lowery, the executive director for The Cancer Foundation’s Northeast chapter, hopes that a larger variety of people will partake in the event.
This event is one of many fundraisers The Cancer Foundation hosts to raise money for cancer patients in Georgia. The Cancer Foundation strives to assist not only the patients but also their families by providing up to $500 for housing, transportation, utilities, nutritional assistance and medication.
Although Lowery joined the staff only two months ago, the organization’s mission was quickly apparent to the Athens native.
“Since I started, I’ve found a long tradition of supporting cancer patients and their families in our broad area,” Lowery said. “We have a track record that is pretty amazing in such a short time.”
The Cancer Foundation serves 19 counties in Georgia and has raised over $1.8 million since 2009 due to the success of events such as the Tri for Cancer.
Avery has seen first-hand how the foundation has impacted more than 3,000 patients.
“There was a local lady that we helped in Greensboro that we were able to provide three months of ostomy supplies,” Avery said. “When her supplies were delivered, she actually cried. She said ‘This is like Christmas morning.’”
The Cancer Foundation’s staff recognizes how the money raised from events such as the Tri to Beat Cancer help reduce patients' non-medical hardships.
“This is a chance for the community to come together around the idea of helping cancer patients with the emotional stress that they face,” Lowery said.
Although the nonprofit receives donations from all over the country, Lowery credits a great deal of the organization’s success to the generosity of the Athens community. With key volunteers and donors from the University of Georgia, including students and staff, and a number of Athens residents who have responded to The Cancer Foundation’s call, Lowery has high expectations for the upcoming triathlon and the nonprofit as a whole.
“When we look at where our donations come from, Athens has been such a huge supporter of The Cancer Foundation,” Lowery said. “It’s been a lynchpin of how we are able to do what we are doing.”