The events held on the last day of September will conclude Childhood Cancer Awareness Month but also motivate people to continue raising funds throughout the year.
People from Augusta and across the country who have followed the stories of the two cancer patients have raised money for a cause they believe in and want to support, Tara Simkins said. After the success of last year’s drive, many people said they wanted to make this year’s event even bigger, she said.
“It’s the grass-roots nature of it where everyone feels empowered to go out and do their own thing,” she said.
Individual contributions and lemonade stands in Atlanta and Vidalia, Ga., have raised more than $31,000 this month, Simkins said. Last year, donations totaling $103,000 far surpassed the $20,000 benchmark.
Students from St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School will exchange donations for the chance to dress out-of-uniform for the day. Hull Barrett, an Augusta law firm, will also hold a casual dress day for their employees.
For the Simkins family, raising funds goes beyond helping their 9-year-old son Brennan, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2009 and received his fourth bone marrow transplant last January.
“We want to be part of a fabric that is part of a cure for the next person,” Tara Simkins said.
Press On to Cure Childhood Cancer supports research for less-toxic cancer treatments for acute myeloid leukemia and neuroblastoma, a cancer that Patrick was diagnosed with in 2006. Proceeds from Press On Day will be donated to research.
“We hope something can help our guys, but ultimately, it’s for the long-term benefits for the guys behind them,” Turner Simkins said. “It’s worth every ounce of effort we put into it.”
Turner Simkins said Augusta’s support of Press On “defines community in the truest form.”
“We all have our roles in life, but on that day it’s the same,” he said.
Brennan has been gaining strength since returning to Augusta this summer from St. Jude Children’s Research Center where he received treatment, his mother said. Brennan gets excited just knowing friends his age are participating in Press On and he wants to inspire other cancer patients to continue the fight, she said.
“It’s heartwarming to see that children are reaching out their hands to something bigger,” Turner Simkins said. “Rather than being afraid of something, let’s face it and solve it.”