No one can say that Jeanna Rachelson doesn’t know how to throw a party. Or a great fundraiser.
For the third straight year, the stage 4 oral cancer survivor organized a hugely successful Chattanooga Oral Cancer Awareness Walk. This year’s walk, which took place on April 28, combined elements that have proved successful in the past with elements that gave the event a new, fresh feeling.
As was the case for the past two years, the event was emceed by former Mrs. Tennessee International Cydney Miller, a staunch oral cancer awareness advocate. emceed for the 3rd year in a row. And, as in 2011, the event was held at the First Tennessee Pavillion, and the 2-mile walk took participants past the world famous “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” And once again, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield declared the day of the walk “Oral Cancer Awareness Day.”
Once again, Jeanna was able to procure many great silent auction and raffle items, include a dinner for eight at Bonefish Grill. And once again, the single largest donation was made by Jeanna’s favorite customer at Siskin Steel, where she just celebrated 15 years of employment.
Perhaps the biggest change from the first two walks was the appearance of Chattanooga’s most popular big band, Sweet Georgia Sound. The band’s leader, Mike Laroche, is an oral cancer survivor. Jeanna’s pre-walk advertising told participants to bring their running shoes and their dancing shoes, and in fact many did exactly that.
Another special aspect of this year’s walk was the fact that it was dedicated to the late Chip Lewis, an oral cancer victim. The walk, which was attended by his family, was kicked off with a massive release of helium-filled blue balloons to honor Chip and his favorite color.
Dr. Peter Hunt, and ENT surgeon who has operated on many oral cancer patients, spoke to the crowd about early detection of the disease. Following that, oral cancer screenings were provided by Dr. Jill Hodges and three husband-and-wife dentist teams: Dr. Marie Farrar and Dr. Mitch Baldree; Dr. Mandy and Dr. Bob Shearer; and Dr. Angela and Dr. Riley Lunn.
The event was also attended by the Oral Cancer Foundation’s New Jersey-based Event Coordinator Susan Lauria and her husband Harry. “I was thrilled to be able to see Susan again and to meet her husband,” said Jeanna. “Without her help, we would never have achieved the things we have over the past three years.”
And without Jeanna’s help, the cause of oral cancer awareness would never have advanced as far as in has among the residents of Chattanooga. Moreover, the Oral Cancer Foundation would not have received a contribution of over $24,000, bringing Jeanna’s three-year fundraising total to over $62,000.
Impressively, her accomplishments are being recognized not just locally, but on a national level. Jeanna recently was named a winner of the prestigious Jefferson Award, which honors exceptional community and public volunteers across the country. She’ll receive the award at a June ceremony in Washington, DC, accompanied by the person who nominated her for the award: her husband Robert.
Jeanna Rachelson is a very special person. Her husband gets that. So do the people at the Jefferson Awards. And so does the Oral Cancer Foundation.