For John Hale, the Cookin' on the Creek fundraiser has turned from a "hobby to a passion." Benefiting The Hope Center Foundation, the eighth annual event will be presented from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gunn Complex, 35 Lipscomb Circle in Cartersville.
"Last year, in our seventh [event], we raised over $40,000 for this cause," said Hale, a Cartersville resident and co-organizer for Cookin' on the Creek. "We have an estimated 1,500 people attend the event yearly. Due to our focused commitment and partnering with such a great organization, we are currently on track to increase that number again this year with hopes of hitting $50k.
"The Hope Center is the premier cancer treatment center in this area. We are lucky to have such talented and caring folks working and running the center. We feel this cause is the best way to get help directly in the hands of the local patients that need it. That is why we will continue to work with The Hope Center.
He continued, "… Last year, the week before the event, one of the original cooks and organizing member, and good friend, Randy Isbel, passed away from brain cancer. Later that week, just days before the event, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Last year changed the way I looked at cancer and fundraising for cancer support. My ideas for raising money for this organization went from a hobby to a passion. What the folks at The Hope Center do every day, and how they do it, is something you cannot put a price on. The funding we help give the foundation helps to allow them to touch more folks that need support in many ways during treatment."
In addition to live entertainment provided by Morgan Taylor and The Old Mill Road Band, Cookin’ on the Creek will feature professional and backyard barbecue teams, grill demonstrations and unlimited barbecue sampling — while supplies last — from noon to 3 p.m.
"Cookin' on the Creek was originally founded to support Gunn's and Roses Relay For Life Team," Hale said. "The founders of that team, Freddie Gunn, Sheila Mills and Eddie Mills, lost their wife, sister and sister-in-law when Sandra Gunn passed away from cancer. In her memory, they formed a Relay For Life team.
"The Gunn family has had a family history of using their family compound on Pettit Creek over the years to support many charitable causes. After a few meetings and visits to the creek, we felt like it made sense for the four of us to combine and start Cookin' on the Creek as a way to grow the support for a cause they were already so passionate about — and Cookin' on the Creek was formed."
On Saturday, Cookin’ on the Creek attendees will be encouraged to park at The Hope Center and a shuttle will transport patrons to the event. Admission to the benefit will be a $10 donation for adults, $5 donation for youth 5 to 12 and free for children younger than 4.
Show for Hope
Cookin’ on the Creek will be the first of two events supporting The Hope Center Foundation.
On March 31, the Show for Hope benefit will feature a car show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Hope Center, 100 Market Place Blvd. in Cartersville. Individuals can enter their vehicle in advance for $15 by March 24, or register by 11 a.m. the day of the show for $20.
"The regional car clubs, vendors and this car community in general have really rallied behind the idea and the projections for this show are much higher than initially anticipated," said Hale, who will be volunteering at Show for Hope. "We will combine what both events make and all the proceeds go directly back to The Hope Center Foundation.
"We, at Cookin' on the Creek, are really excited about these guys stepping up and making this a 'sister' event. … We could not ask for better folk to be in the trenches with while we continue to raise money for such a great cause."
'Excited beyond words'
Echoing Hale's comments, Hope Center Foundation Chairman Leigh Akley also is thrilled two events will be supporting the foundation's efforts.
"I was excited beyond words," Akley said. "What is better than barbecue and cars? The members of the Cookin’ on the Creek team are so generous to organize this benefit for us. Without the event and its wonderful team, we would not be able to offer the amount of assistance that we do. I am looking forward to working my first Cookin’ on the Creek event this year. And, many of the committee members and cook teams have been personally touched by cancer in one way or another. So this event is very personal for them as well.
"The Show for Hope is especially exciting to me. I absolutely love cars and having such a great group of people who are willing to put on such an event for The Hope Center Foundation is mind-blowing. This event will offer something for everyone, and we will have vendors set up to sell various items. The Hope Center will also have a tent where we will be giving out information on the foundation and also the cancer care services we offer."
The Hope Center provides radiation oncology and medical oncology treatment for cancer patients. The center also houses the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, which offers various services, such as screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasound and 3D ultrasounds for dense breasts.
"The Hope Center Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps patients who need assistance and resources while receiving treatment for their cancer," Akley said. "We are nonprofit and charge no administration fees. All of the funds raised remain in Bartow County and go directly back to the patients. We provide gas cards, taxi vouchers, nutritional supplements, medical supplies and other assistance as the needs arise.
"It is very humbling to know that we have such a great support system within the community. The people who have contributed donations, helped organize fundraisers or events, and volunteered their time and services are true gifts from the heart. It is one of my favorite parts of my job, and I love being a part of something that is so rewarding. It is not easy to go through cancer care and knowing that we have the resources to give our patients the security and financial assistance they need is very gratifying. Knowing that we have such a great community here in Bartow makes me glad to now call Cartersville home."
With the community's support, the foundation looks to increase its patient services.
"In the year 2017, the Hope Center Foundation provided the following assistance: Kroger gas cards dispensed 122 cards equaled $ 6,000; nutritional supplement partners with Holt’s Pharmacy & West End Pharmacy in Cartersville; assisted 17 patients for a total of $7,983.50 in 2017; taxi voucher program with Xpress Taxi equaled assistance of $11,581 in 2017; Project Hope Painting Workshop — a painting workshop designed to promote expression of feelings through art and the camaraderie with cancer survivors; [and] assisted 12 cancer survivors throughout 2017 with a total of $1,800 going towards the workshop," Akley said. "Total assistance towards patients in our community from the above programs equaled $27,364.50.
"For 2018, we hope to increase the services we can offer to patients. We would like to implement more patient support services and also services to support caregivers in addition to the assistance we already offer. Continued community support is vital to the success of The Hope Center Foundation. Without the generosity of the community, we would not be able to help patients in need."
For more information about Cookin’ on the Creek, visit the event’s Facebook page or call Hale, 404-644-1213, or Gunn, 678-873-4407. Further details about Show for Hope can be obtained by calling McCoy at 678-491-8035.
To inquire about The Hope Center’s services, visit CartersvilleMedical.com or call 678-721-5555.
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