(T-G Photo by Mitchell Petty)
It's the great equalizer that can bring anyone to their knees. But, it also can show how strong a person is, and how great the community around them can rally when called upon.
One such community organization is the Bedford Cancer Foundation. You don't have to go far to see the dividends.
"Our motto is, 'What we raise ... stays," said Vice President Virginia Stewart.
"It may be on a small scale, but we touch people that may not be touched by larger organizations," added board member Kay Adcock.
Funding for the Bedford Cancer Foundation is entirely through contributions from individuals and corporations, grants from public and private agencies, and fundraising events. The biggest event, their annual Walking for Cancer Horse Show, will be held on Saturday, May 19.
The show has provided more than $29,000 in assistance to cancer patients in Bedford County over the past two years. And the folks at the Bedford Cancer Foundation are making sure this year's show is their best yet.
"We are working hard to put on a great show for the industry," said President Joni Jenne', "and we invite the community to come out to enjoy the show and help us raise funds to assist Bedford County residents. We would also welcome assistance if anyone would like to sponsor a class, ribbons or a trophy."
There should be fun for everyone at this year's show -- good food, vendors like J.Jordan and the Sweet Shoppe, a Pink Bash Cancer Car for smashing, a 50/50 drawing, and of course, the beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse.
The individual trainer who brings the most horses will receive four dinners compliments of the Bell Buckle Cafe. Rail-side parking is also available at $50 per space through Rebecca Jones at (931) 224-5329.
An added feature to this year's show will be three special Pink Ribbon Classes. Class 7, the Survivors Amateur Open Specialty will be for riders who've beaten cancer. Class 9 is the Pleasure Amateur Open Specialty, and Class 29 is the Performance Amateur Open Specialty -- both of which will be open to amateurs riding in honor or in memory of a cancer victim.
One exhibitor proud to be riding in the cancer survivor class is George-Ann Pratt.
Pratt, who has a mammogram every year, was told that she might have a little calcification and should come back in six months. She did, and after an ultrasound and stereotactic, was set up with a surgeon in Kansas City near her hometown of Shawnee Mission, Kan.
"I decided that I'd rather be here in Shelbyville, where my horses are," Pratt explained. "So, I took all of my information to Dr. Lana Beavers who performed the surgery."
"I actually owe my life to that woman, because she took enough tissue to find a secondary abnormality," explained Pratt. "It was very aggressive, and as my oncologist told me, it would've been life-threatening had I not had such an early diagnosis."
Although the cancer was removed, Pratt still had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation to ensure that it had been nipped in the bud. She had her last chemotherapy on a Tuesday, and the next Saturday rode My First Dollar to a World Grand Chamionship.
And she did it without a wig ... and only an inch of hair on her head.
"I'm free of this thing," she thought as she took the ring.
Pratt's trainer, Allen Calloway, is also a cancer survivor. The thing they both stressed was early detection.
"Don't be afraid to go get checked," Calloway said.
Currently, the Bedford Cancer Foundation is looking for applicants for aid from cancer patients in the area. And they're more than willing to come to you to make the process simple.
"Kay's come back to a board meeting in tears after walking into some of these situations," said Stewart. "It just breaks your heart."
"We want to get people's attention that we're here to help them," said Adcock. "We need applications. We make the process as simple as possible. At that point in a patient's life, they don't need any added stress."
Adcock wants to walk applicants through the process. She can be reached for assistance at (931) 580-9518.
To inquire about sponsorships for the show, contact Jenne' at (931) 224-3046.