Last Saturday, August 27, my wife, Meredith, and I were blessed. We were honored to emcee the 20th Annual Imagine Ball benefiting the American Cancer Society – Memphis; but we were blessed to be around so many people supporting the effort to find a cure and someday realize a world that’s cancer free. The American Cancer Society team and volunteers, led by event chair Rola Obaji, put on quite the show; and to me, one of the best parts was honoring two long-time Society volunteers.
The first honoree was Annie Laura Jennings, formerly of Ripley, Tennessee. Annie Laura passed away from lung cancer in November 2015. She was involved with the Society’s Relay For Life of Lauderdale County since it first started in 1996; and that first year, she led the community to raise over $100,000. To this day, Lauderdale County continues to be one of the top fundraising communities for our local chapter of the American Cancer Society. A few years ago, Annie Laura created a local cancer support group, called the Mustard Seeds, in order to make an even greater difference and to help more individuals and families affected by cancer. Annie Laura served on the local board of directors and was an advocate talking with state and national leaders about the importance of cancer research and funding. It was touching to have Annie Laura’s family and friends with us to celebrate her legacy.
Our second honoree has dedicated over FIFTY years of service to the American Cancer Society! Mary Lawrence Allen is a remarkable woman who has defeated the deadly disease SIX times! She not only has preserved personally, but has helped hundreds of women and their families navigate through their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, too. Mary Lawrence continues to serve, help others, and fundraise. She was the top individual fundraiser for the Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event last year. At the Imagine Ball, she received the American Cancer Society’s St. George National Award, the most prestigious award given to Society volunteers. It was incredible to watch her tears of joy as she received two standing ovations for the impact she has made.
Before she walked on stage, I received my blessing and gift for the night, a big hug from Mary Lawrence Allen! To both Mary Lawrence and Annie Laura, I say thank you for ALL you’ve done! You’ve made a difference!
Photo credit: Red Bardes Photography