As you have driven around town lately, you may have seen several gold ribbons on the doors or signs for local businesses, or you may have seen a painting on a storefront window and wondered what all of this is signifying. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month and all of the gold decorations are part of the “Go Gold for Childhood Cancer” campaign, which aims to bring awareness to the terrible disease that, according to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, affects 175,000 children worldwide each year.
Raising awareness for childhood cancer is a cause that is near and dear to Scott Story’s heart. His son, Bowen, better known as Bo, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor, when he was just 23 months old. Bo fought hard against cancer until he received God’s ultimate healing just before his fourth birthday in August 2011. While Story, along with the non-profit organization founded in memory of Bo, The Bowen Story Fund, has worked hard to raise awareness for the disease throughout the entire year, he felt he needed to kick it up a notch for the month of September.
“I started this campaign on a spur of the moment. I wanted to get our community involved in spreading awareness,” said Story. “We’ve had quite a few children that have, or still are, battling childhood cancer. I wanted to not just recognize Bo, but all of these heroes. Some families don’t make their battle public like we did with Bo, but, they still need the love and support from everyone. I thought this was a way to show them that we all support and acknowledge their fight. This is childhood cancer awareness month and I am thrilled with the participation the community has shown. Awareness leads to funding! Childhood cancer is vastly underfunded by our government. This is one way to raise that awareness for those that might be small, but are the greatest of heroes to me! Be Bo Strong!” ”
Story added that he did not start the campaign as a fundraising effort; he just wanted to make more people aware of the struggles too many children worldwide face because of the disease. However, he is beyond thrilled that some people have felt led to donate to The Bowen Story Fund.
“I haven’t been asking for donations, just to “Go Gold” for September. But, some have given donations to Bo’s fund out of the kindness of their hearts and I am forever grateful,” said Story.
No. 1 Chili’s
One business that has been asking for donations for the cause is Chili’s of Thomaston. Each September the Chili’s corporation sets out to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the local restaurant holds several events to do their part of fundraising. This year with the local “Go Gold” campaign gaining momentum, the staff at Chili’s wanted to make sure to “Go Gold” in a big way.
The Chili’s team began by selling tickets for the annual Character Breakfast that is hosted by the restaurant and the Armstrong School of Dance. This breakfast gives children the opportunity to visit with some of their favorite Disney characters, such as Mickey and Minnie, Snow White, Belle, Ariel and Jasmine while money is raised for the cause. However, the team knew they wanted to go the extra mile this year with their fundraising, so they came up with the idea to have patrons put “in jail” at the restaurant and they were not allowed to leave until they made their $200 bail. Many signed up to be part of the event and dutifully stayed behind bars until they had raised enough money to be released.
The efforts of everyone involved have paid off tremendously this year with the local Chili’s raising $12,500, more than any other location in the whole United States. Chili’s Manager Alicia Maddox could not be more proud of her team and the patrons who helped contribute.
“Hats off Thomaston Georgia for supporting St. Jude and Childhood Cancer Awareness,” said Maddox. “Chili’s Thomaston finished number one in the entire brand, raising the most money to help save the babies! I am so super proud of our Team and the Community that I live in! Y’all rock!”
If you are worried you missed your chance to be part of painting the town gold, fret not because the “Go Gold for Childhood Cancer” campaign will be ongoing throughout the rest of the month.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1