Gibson City community raises more than $30,000 for cancer research

GIBSON CITY — Gibson City resident Tammi Fanson couldn’t be more pleased with the efforts of her community to raise funds for cancer research in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, a lemonade stand in the parking lot of the WGCY Radio studios in Gibson City brought in more than $2,000 in donations. And later that night, a dinner at her home pushed that total even further.

Combined with donations from businesses and individuals leading up to those two events, a total of $15,125 was raised for the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

To make the fundraiser even more impressive, Fanson’s employer — pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) — has pledged to match the donations, dollar-for-dollar, meaning more than $30,000 will go to the foundation started by legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano.

“It’s amazing,” said Fanson, who works as BMS’s executive territory business manager of immuno-oncology. “This community, they’re incredible. They support (the fundraiser) every year, and it just gets bigger and bigger. If it weren’t for all the passionate people in this community and the support from businesses, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

The local fundraising was part of the annual Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer fundraiser, which has a goal of raising $1 million this year for the V Foundation. BMS is matching all donations, up to $500,000.

The actual bike ride itself is approaching fast, with a start date of Sept. 5 in Cannon Beach, Ore., and with an end date of Sept. 25 in Long Branch, N.J. It will involve 109 bike riders traveling nearly 3,000 miles over the 21-day period. The ride is split up into seven segments, with the closest leg spanning from Effingham to Kansas City, Mo.

“Each region has a part of it,” Fanson explained. “So they ride for about three days straight and then do a hand-off.”

BMS’s employees are encouraged to participate each year, and Fanson has for the past five years.

Fanson not only has been conducting her lemonade stand each year with friends and raising funds through donations, she also plans to participate in the actual bike ride this year. She said she will be participating in the ride as a member of the “Quad Squad,” which cheers on the riders.

“I’ll end up in Denver and start in Utah,” Fanson said. “I’m excited.”

Fanson said the $30,000-plus raised this year by her community was, by far, the most ever. She said last year’s total was about $12,000, with BMS matching the $6,000 she was able to collect.

This year’s goal was $10,000.

After more than tripling that amount, Fanson said she still expects more donations to trickle in.

“I still have funds coming in from people who were not able to attend (the two fundraisers earlier this month), and donations will be accepted until Sept. 15,” she said.

The lemonade stand was staffed by Fanson and other BMS staff, as well as children of Fanson’s friends. They offered lemonade and cookies to anyone who wanted them, while also passing out educational information about cancer awareness for melanoma and lung cancer, specifically. They also accepted donations, of course.

For Fanson, her desire to help raise funds for such an important cause was inspired by what she has seen over the years through her work at BMS, where she has been employed for 21 years, including for the past five in the oncology field.

“Fundraising is completely voluntary in our company, but I have a lot of passion for it because I see it every day — and I’ve had good friends and family members who have also passed away from cancer,” Fanson said. “I think that we’re all impacted (by cancer), one way or the other.

“So I just appreciate my company being able to match the donations and kind of do this large, epic event, and that we can be a little part of it.”
For more information about Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, people can visit www.cancerbikeride.org.

Categories (4):News, Miscellaneous, Living, Health

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