Relay for Life will kick into gear Saturday at Discover Mills

Are you aware of an event or project that benefits our community? Contact Anna Ferguson at 770-963-9205 ext. 1308 or anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Kim Durham grew up fully aware of cancer and its power. Her grandmother had breast cancer. Her mother had breast cancer. And at the young age of 38, Durham felt that feared mass, a lump, hiding inside her own breast.

"I didn't really feel that sinking feeling in my stomach, but I felt this huge sense of dread," Durham said. "I knew, though, that even if it was cancer, I could survive it. My mother survived, and my grandmother survived. I could fight this."

Even though Durham had been going in regularly for mammograms since she was 26 ("I know, it's really young," she added), the lump didn't show up until she received an ultrasound.

"It looked like a head of broccoli," she said. "It was very odd."

Her doctor ruled the mass benign, but Durham, a nurse, wanted it taken out anyway. She hadn't been feeling quite right, and despite the science, she knew the lump was cancerous. After surgery was completed and the lump was removed, a test of the mass showed she had been right. The lump was encompassed by negative cells, but at its core, it was indeed cancer.

"From watching my mother and my grandmother as they went through this, I knew you had to be an advocate for your own health," she said. "You have to use all your resources."

Now a 10-year cancer survivor, Durham is passionate about finding a cure. As the public relations chair for Relay for Life, she works to rally support from the community to fight the disease. One of the American Cancer Society's most renowned fundraising events, Relay for Life is an annual overnight event designed to celebrate survivors and raise money for research and programs. During the event, teams and individuals gather at schools, fairgrounds or parks and take turns walking or running laps all night long.

The Gwinnett Relay for Life, scheduled for May 11-12 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, has historically been the largest and most successful Relay event in the world - last year's fundraiser brought in $2 million, Durham said.

"Walking into the fairground, a place you've been many times before, it takes on this new feeling," Durham said. "There is this feeling of hope, camaraderie and love that fills the air. It's a feeling that is so phenomenal."

To jump start the campaign, the Gwinnett chapter will hold a kickoff event Saturday at Discover Mills. In past years, the kickoff has been only for participating teams and sponsors, but this year, Durham and crew hope to get the community more involved and raise additional awareness for the program.

Throughout the day, a miniature Relay for Life track will be set up and participants will be on hand to answer questions and register volunteers and potential walkers.

"The kickoff will give people an opportunity to see what Relay is all about and spread the enthusiasm," Durham said. "If you've walked before, come out and bring friends, family and coworkers to expose them to Relay. For people who don't know or haven't heard of Relay, this will show a snapshot of what we are."

The kickoff event will begin 10:30 a.m. at the Discover Mills food court, 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville. For more information, visit www.gwinnettrelayforlife.org.

Hosea Feed the Hungry will be

out in force

The Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless campaign will host the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Dinner beginning at 11 a.m. Monday on the Lexus Level of Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Atlanta. To volunteer or for information, call 404-755-3353 or visit www.hoseafeedthehungry.com.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful seeks volunteers

The Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful campaign is calling for volunteers for its Bring One for the Chipper event Saturday. Volunteers are needed to strip Christmas trees of additional holiday decorations and chip the trees into mulch. The event will be held at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, 2020 Clean Water Drive in Buford. Call 770-822-5187 or visit gwinnettcb.org.

Oscar party will aid local nonprofit

Atlanta's only Academy-sanctioned Oscar party will also help raise money for The Center for Family Resources. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the nonprofit's party as one of its Oscar Night America Parties.

The Oscar Night Party will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Parkway in Atlanta. Individual tickets are $150 and tickets for a table of eight are $1,500. All ticket sales benefit the nonprofit organization. Call 770-428-2601 or visit www.TheCFR.org.

Web site donates sales to breast cancer foundation

The All Moms Go To Heaven online boutique will donate 10 percent of all Pink item sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help fight breast cancer. Pink items include totes, sun visors and tank tops. Visit www.allmomsgotoheaven.com.