Living with a catastrophic pediatric disease is not easy for any child - neither is the effort to combat the illnesses by hospitals - but Hazel Lanier believes helping is as simple as taking a stroll.
Lanier and her husband, Harold Lanier, have canvassed Statesboro streets in recent weeks to spread the word about an upcoming Walk-a-Thon benefitting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The fundraising event will draw donors from around Bulloch County to the winding track around Mill Creek Regional Park Saturday, April 16, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
"It is a very worth-while thing that [St. Jude] is doing," said Hazel Lanier. "They are really helping the children."
"I taught in public schools for 35 years and am soft-hearted when it comes to children," she said. "These young kids have their entire lives in front of them but are struck down at such an early age with disease. We owe it to them to do everything we can to help."
Lanier is doing her part, accepting the role of event coordinator after being contacted by the hospital with hopes of hosting an event in Statesboro.
"St. Jude called and asked if I would coordinate a special event to raise money for the hospital," she said. "I said yes and that I would do whatever I could."
St. Jude Children's' Research Hospital, which opened its doors in 1962, declares curing and preventing
life-threatening illnesses through treatment and research its mission - the hospital operates at no costs to its patients, surviving via charitable donations.
The facility treats approximately 5,700 patients each year, and is ranked the number one pediatric cancer hospital by Parents magazine and the number one children's cancer hospital by U.S. News & World Report, according to the St. Jude website.
Lanier said the fundraising effort, and other similar events, is vitally important to support the hospital, which provides invaluable treatment to children who cannot live without it.
St. Jude has helped people throughout the Statesboro-area and countless others around the country, she said.
Since accepting the task of hosting a fundraising event, Lanier and her husband have worked to distribute fund-collecting materials provided by the hospital.
"For about three or four weeks, my husband has been running around town passing out envelopes. He has blanketed the city and visited every store he could possibly cover," she said. "We have given out almost 100 envelopes to people who are hopefully collecting money."
The envelopes, she said, were given to churches, businesses and other organizations with the hope that money would be collected and turned in on the day of the walk.
Anyone that did not have an opportunity to contribute prior to the event is invited to donate on-site when the walk begins, said Lanier.
"We are not asking for any particular amount," she said. "It is up to each individual person and what they feel comfortable with."
If a charitable donation is too little incentive, St. Jude will also offer prizes to participants who donate more than $35 - prizes include a t-shirt, carrying bag and blanket.
Anyone interested in learning more about the event is asked to call 912-587-5466.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.