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Leadership Fayette Supports Cancer Wellness

May 15, 2011 by Maggie Worth  
Filed under Good Stories

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Leadership Fayette Mentors: L to R: Randy Hyde, Bob Reeves, Dan Adams, Linda Pirog and Co-chairs Melodie Reed and Vicki Turner.

Local Business Leaders Step Out in Support of Cancer Wellness

Most residents of Fayette County have heard of the Cancer Wellness Center at Piedmont-Fayette Hospital. Yet not everyone is aware of what it does or that services are free and are not restricted to those being treated at Piedmont. In fact, Piedmont’s Wellness Center is open to anyone facing cancer, during any stage of the individual’s cancer journey. Services such as nutritional classes and support groups are also available for families and caregivers.

One of the many offerings is the Cancer WellFit Exercise and Personal Consults program, an exercise program designed to improve both the physical health and the quality of life of those fighting cancer. These safe, enjoyable exercise programs are manageable for a wide range of physical abilities. Three one-hour group classes meet each week. In addition, individuals may schedule one-on-one sessions with a degreed exercise physiologist. While the program receives support from local cancer charities, additional funding is always needed.

The Cancer Wellness Center at Piedmont Fayette Hospital

That’s where this year’s Leadership Fayette class project comes into play. Leadership Fayette is one of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce’s longest-running initiatives. This innovative program has been bringing class members together with community leaders for over 30 years. Each year, participants study the inner workings of important community functions, such as the law enforcement and judicial systems, economic development and local industry, health & human services and education. Class members visit a different key area each month, with the goal of improving their leadership skills and getting to know the community in which they live and work. Class participants are often small business owners or employees of local businesses, but anyone may join and Chamber membership is not a requirement of participation.

Each year’s class is also responsible for selecting, planning and executing a community-benefit team project. The coordination and management of the project teaches class members to work together, explore each member’s strengths and develop additional relationships within the community. At the same time, the project benefits a charitable group or civic organization. This year, 25 class participants, seven mentors and co-chairs Vicki Turner and Melanie Reed worked together to plan a walk to benefit the Cancer Wellness Center’s WellFit Program.

The Leadership Fayette class talking about their Cancer Wellness project.

“This is the most extensive project a class has ever undertaken,” notes Turner. “Often, we have several smaller projects and a portion of the class works on each. This time, every single member of the class is working on the same thing. That takes a lot of teamwork. Especially since most of the members also have businesses to run.”

The undertaking is, indeed, huge. While charity walks can take up to a year to plan, this one will be pulled together in just a few short months. That means one team of people focused on logistics and operation, another in charge of marketing the event and a third dedicated to finding sponsors for items such as water and directional signs.

“There have been some challenges,” admits class member Rick Barnes, whose business has made an in-kind donation of all printing needs associated with the walk. “When the economy is tough, there are a lot of charities competing for a limited amount of discretionary income. People hear the word cancer and they think, ‘Oh, I already donate to that.’ They probably do, and that’s important. But we want people to understand that the money we raise will benefit the Wellness Center right here in our own community. That’s important, too.”

So why attempt such a major project in such difficult economic times? Because cancer doesn’t recognize economic downturn. In good times and in bad, people will still be diagnosed and will still need treatment. Perhaps more than ever, they will also need the special programs and support offered by the Cancer Wellness Center.

Besides, this particular charity is highly appropriate for this particular Leadership Fayette class.

“We started talking about the idea of using this year’s project to benefit the Wellness Center,” Turner explains, “and we were surprised to learn how many of us had experiences with cancer. We had mentors who were survivors and class members who were survivors themselves or had close family members who were survivors – and too many of us have lost someone to the disease.”

The potential for local impact was also a natural fit for the class.

“Leadership Fayette is about building our small business community,” says Reed. “It’s about class members meeting people they wouldn’t normally meet, about them becoming invested in their community. The Wellness Center is an important part of our community now, so it just made sense.”

Once the cause was chosen, the actual project still had to be arranged. Class members decided on a walk because it would be a fun, engaging way for people to support the Wellness Center. Picnic Park was selected as the preferred location because the 3.7-mile trail is pleasant and not overly taxing. The City was more than happy to partner with Leadership Fayette and planning began immediately.

The walk will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2011. It begins at 9 am at Picnic Park/All Children’s Playground in Peachtree City. Individuals may register at the event for a fee of $20 per walker. Teams are encouraged and donations will be accepted through the day of the event.

Leadership Fayette hopes this event will raise not only money, but awareness.

“So many people still don’t know what the Cancer Wellness Center has to offer,” explains Barnes. “It’s important that they find out.”

The Leadership Fayette 2010-2011 Class

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About Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth is a freelance writer and consultant with a PoliSci degree and 15 years in project management and marketing. An avid mystery reader, co-founder of the Southside Scribes writer's group and member of BWFC, Maggie lives in Fayetteville with her husband, Shane, and their "kid," Rowdy.

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