HOPE SOARS: Balloons released to raise money for cancer center

Published 4:00 am Friday, October 5, 2018

A record 540 balloons are now up high in the sky above traveling out of Pike County to the far reaches of the region, carrying with them hope for better cancer treatment in Pike County.

The balloons were released Thursday afternoon by the Pike Medical Foundation in conjunction with Troy Regional Medical Center and Troy University to raise funds for the Troy Regional Cancer Center.

At $100 a piece, the foundation set a goal to raise more than $50,000 in the fundraiser. Dr. Steve Garrott, foundation chairman, said the support of citizens and businesses in the community has helped the fundraiser exceed that goal.

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“It’s been an outstanding success this year,” Garrott said. “We’ve sold more tickets than ever and had more participation from businesses than we’ve ever had … The community support around our hospital has been outstanding. We’re trying to make it not just a stopover, but a place where people can come and truly get caring attention and good treatment. We want patients to feel like you’ve gotten the best care that they can get.”

Garrott said the funds are going to a good cause with the new cancer center.

“We’ll be buying special chairs or other equipment for the cancer center so people can get their chemotherapy treatments there instead of having to travel to Montgomery or Birmingham,” Garrott said.

Now that the balloons are up in the air, the competition is on. As an incentive to join the fundraising campaign, the person who purchased the balloon that is found the furthest distance from the launch will win $1,000. The finder of the balloon will also be awarded $100 for calling in their find.

Karen Herring, director of public relations at TRMC, said the balloons have been found far away in all directions in the past four years of the event.

“The balloons have traveled as far as Port St. Lucie, Florida, and as far north as Lumberton, North Carolina,” Herring said. “Last year, the winning balloon traveled down to the Florida panhandle, where it was found on a golf course in Navarre Beach.”

The balloon launch is part of the Pike Medical Foundation’s Campaign 2018, Herring said, with other fundraisers already held and more to come.

“There will be other events going on also throughout the year to help us reach our goal of $100,000,” Herring said. “We’ve done some internal campaigns here at TRMC – a t-shirt sale, a bake sale – we’ve had some opportunities for our TRMC team to be a part of the fundraising; we also want to support what our community is supporting, which is our hospital.”