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Relay team honored for effort to 'flush out cancer'

BY CARRIE DILLARD AND LAUREL BLACKnews@paducahsun.com

It's not every day that you win an award for putting toilets in people's yards. Then again, the McCracken County Relay for Life is not an everyday event.

Sisters-in-law Lori Smith and Cindy Shoulta accepted the inaugural Rita Bailey Spirit of Hope Award on Friday during the annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, held from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday at McCracken County High School.

Their Relay for Life team from Southland Baptist Temple raised upward of $9,000 by holding events such as spaghetti dinners and Zumba-thons, but they're probably best known for sneaking brightly-colored commodes onto lawns in an effort to "flush out cancer."

"We give all the glory to God. He's helped us and told us what to do. Who would ever think of a toilet (as a fundraiser) otherwise?" said Smith, a two-year breast cancer survivor.

The award was named in honor of the Lourdes employee who spearheaded the Lourdes Dancing With Our Stars fundraiser. Now entering its ninth year, the event has raised more than $1 million for Relay for Life.

Southland Baptist Temple numbered among 51 teams that pulled an all-nighter to celebrate survivors, honor those lost to cancer, and bring in money to advance the ACS' mission. Local businesses, churches, hospitals and banks all stepped up to sponsor the teams, and the preliminary total Saturday exceeded $406,000, McCracken County Relay for Life Specialist Tom Dolan said.

"That's 50,000 over where we were this time last year," Dolan said.

The effort's not over yet. He said this year's fundraiser aims to bring in $450,000 by the time the season ends on Aug. 31.

"Cancer is not a friendly foe. We've all been touched by cancer in some way. It does not discriminate," Dolan said. "We stand together, and we've got to finish the fight."

Smith echoed the sentiment.

"That's my passion, to stop this disease. I know how bad it is," she said.

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