Ten years ago, the American Cancer Society launched a mission to have a stronger voice in the fight against cancer. Ten years ago, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network was born and now we are the largest, most powerful, most successful movement of volunteers that have moved mountains in our goal to save more lives from the disease that takes so much from so many. And why are we seen as powerful to our lawmakers across the country? Because they know Relay For Life events happen in every corner of the country and they know the power of Relayers to FIGHT BACK is unstoppable. From the very beginning, Relay For Life volunteers got involved with ACS CAN – they became Ambassadors, partnered at both Celebration on the Hill events, jumped in when ACS CAN put the Fight Back Express on the road, and now the majority of our volunteer leadership structure come to ACS CAN from the Relay community and are leading the planning and implementation of our ‘Celebrate with Action’ events happening in nearly every congressional district the week of September 18. The following week when all of our leadership volunteers will be on the Hill urging congress to ‘Double the Research’, we are partnering once again with Relay to plan activities throughout the day and luminaria ceremony at sundown in front of the US Capitol to make an even bigger impact – to send an even stronger message to lawmakers at our annual lobby day. And the partnership benefits Relay too… did you know that Relay team members who are also ACS CAN donors have a lifetime revenue that is 463% higher than those who are not… and Relay DONORS who are also ACS CAN donors have a lifetime revenue that is 702% higher than those who are not? We have accomplished a lot together over the last ten years… Together, we passed tobacco taxes to prevent our youth from starting to smoke Together, we successfully pushed congress to double funding for research in 2003 Together, we are working for a smokefree nation -community by community and state by state Together, after a dozen years of hard work, we passed FDA regulation over tobacco products which is already beginning to see an impact And together, we worked to ensure cancer patients were front and center when legislation was being formed to reform our nation’s health care system. We have come so far… we can’t stop now. I know that Relayers will do whatever it takes to give a voice to patients, survivors and caregivers. Imagine where we can be in the next ten years… survivors living longer, cancers detected earlier, and preventing more people from hearing those dreaded words “You Have Cancer.” We CAN continue to make an impact, we CAN continue to make a difference, we CAN end the suffering cancer causes, bottom line: we CAN double the hope. Speaking of ‘Double the Hope’, I am very excited for you to hear from our West Virginia (South Atlantic Division) State Lead Ambassador, George Blough…. George. Hi! My name is George Blough, 21 year ovarian cancer survivor, stage 4 since 1997. But more importantly I am also a relayer like you. We walk together the survivor lap, You and I light the luminaries together and we remember those we have lost, Now you have the opportunity join me to make a difference in the fight against cancer. We all know the words “You have cancer” are life changing. When I was first diagnosed I was terrified. I was convinced that I would never see the leaves change colors again. Well, here I am 21 years later and I can tell you each year the color of the leaves is more brilliant than the year before. Every day I look from my kitchen window to see my HOPE garden. Each year I watch the daffodils peek through the ground I know I have reached another milestone! I am alive another year and celebrating each moment I am in. However, I am only afforded this luxury as a result of over 30 years of cancer research. It took 30 years of federal funding to develop the drug that saved my life. Had my cancer returned before 1993, my drug would not have been available for treatment. I wouldn’t be here today. When you look to the journey of cancer drugs or treatment protocols we learn…without government funding…cancer research just doesn’t happen! I know my story is a powerful one. But we know there are many stories that don’t have happy endings. Sonny, a friend and fellow relayer, lost his fight. Shannon, one of my previous students, died of aggressive breast cancer at the age of 36, leaving behind a husband two young children. Brookeanne, 36 years old…my friend… Died of cervical cancer. Her son has lost a mom. All of us have our stories. I encourage you to tell the stories that you know, to everyone everywhere! As an ACS CAN member I am hoping you will join me in being a part of the bigger picture and paying it forward. I hope that in 50 years from today a survivor will look back to 2011 and know that each of us here today acknowledged the importance of encouraging our Congress to fund cancer research and to know that each of us in our membership with ACS CAN made a significant difference in fighting back. HOPE IS THE BELIEF THAT THINGS WILL GET BETTER If we can truly double our hope, by doubling our membership, and doubling government funding, maybe one day there will be double the stories with happy endings! Today I am going to demonstrate the power of your voice… (Did this activity takes 15 seconds) George Claps, George asks Molly to clap… Molly points to a table and asks them to clap… Eventually we get everyone to clap Calling out to the crowd “do you hear that? Sounds like the applause the survivors hear as they walk during Relay!” I will say stop…BIG SILENCE…for 3 seconds…What do you hear now? Silence….Your clapping was your voice. The silence represents …those who didn’t think it was really that important to join…those who didn’t think they could make a difference…they are the voices that aren’t heard…the silence is the drug on the shelf waiting for government funding…the clinical trial that doesn’t happen so your loved one doesn’t win their battle against cancer…. Together with everyone becoming a part of ACS CAN, we can empower fellow Relayers to let our elected officials know that we have a voice. And that voice can help us all fight back against cancer. Recruitment envelopes and pens are on your table. Making memberships to ACS CAN a part of your fight back piece completes the picture! Break the silence! Fight Back! Join ACS CAN today.