MANNING - Hope, strength, courage, faith and love are just a few of the monikers used to describe cancer survivors and their struggles to defeat a disease that can ravage a robust and healthy person in only a matter of days.
Those same words can …
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Those same words can be used to describe a Clarendon County woman who has devoted countless hours to raising money to support cancer research, fund dinners and banquets for cancer survivors and disperse hundreds, if not thousands, of door prizes and gift bags for those who have suffered the ravages of cancer. And she hasn't missed a beat at her job as a Clarendon County deputy.
Annett Smith is a deputy first class with Clarendon County Sheriff's Office. With help from the CCSO and folks with the Clarendon County Government Relay for Life which includes administration, detention center and other county departments, Smith has helped raise more than $50,000 in monetary and gift donations from folks in Clarendon and surrounding counties.
"I couldn't do this without the support of the sheriff and everyone at the sheriff's office," Smith said with a smile. "They help out a lot. We have cookouts, dinners, luncheons and other fundraisers, and they help setting up for the events, serving and cleanup. Anything that's needed, they chip in."
In past years, Smith and her team of volunteers have provided cancer survivors with numerous events including breakfasts, luncheons, dinners and cookouts, all free of charge.
The main fundraiser over those six years has been the annual Think Pink banquet which is held on the first Saturday of October at the Manning Junior High School gymnasium. The banquet is held to bring about an awareness of breast cancer; however, all cancer survivors are honored and recognized at the banquet.
More than 500 tickets are sold annually for the event which features a fashion show, live entertainment, a parade of hats and a catered dinner where officers from various law enforcement agencies in Clarendon County serve the tables reserved for cancer survivors. Officers from the sheriff's office, South Carolina Highway Patrol, Manning Police Department, Clarendon County Detention Center and other agencies have donned tuxedos in past years to serve the honored guest, the survivors.
"It's awesome," Smith said. "I get so much support from the different agencies. This event is huge, and I couldn't do it without the help of the sheriff, deputies, staff and volunteers from around the county. It is truly a team effort."
Smith also gets support for the fashion show from shops in Clarendon and Sumter counties that loan casual, business and evening apparel for the models at that event.
"They are so wonderful," Smith said. "The models go to the shops and get fitted for the show, and most of the shops give them a discount if they purchase the items they wear."
Smith added that most of the models for the event are survivors, caregivers or family members of individuals who are cancer survivors.
With a slight smile, Smith said she gets a great deal on the catering. Leon Smith, her husband, owns L&A Catering and has catered the event for the past six years.
"He won't tell me what he's serving this year," Smith said laughingly. "I know Leon and the food that night will be spectacular."
The culinary arts class at the F.E. DuBose Center, which is taught by Jean Shaw, will be providing appetizers before the dinner.
"I am so happy to have them help out," Smith said. "Mrs. Shaw and her class are a big part of this year's event."
While in the past the net proceeds from the banquet have gone to the American Cancer Society, this year will be different. This year, all the net proceeds from the banquet will benefit the Clarendon Cancer Support Group, which is in the process of forming a nonprofit organization that will be named Cancer OverComers.
"The money will be kept in Clarendon County for Clarendon County survivors," Smith said. "I've worked with Pat Fenters and the support group for many years now, and I truly believe that help starts at home."
Fenters, a cancer survivor, called Smith an "angel."
"Annett is remarkable," Fenters said. "She works tirelessly raising money for the group, and she never wants any recognition. She provides meals for the group, gifts and a lot of support. I don't know what we'd do without her support and the support of those who have generously given to the group."
Tickets for the Oct. 6 event are selling out fast, according to Smith.
Tickets are $20 each, or individuals or businesses can purchase a Platinum Table Sponsorship for $300 which includes eight tickets or a Gold Table Sponsorship for $160 which also includes eight tickets. The Platinum and Gold tables are decorated lavishly for the event, and each Platinum table will have its own server that will cater to the needs of those eight ticket holders.
"We go all out for our survivors," Smith said. "We treat them like the royalty they are. They need to be pampered a little more than everyone else, and we try to make the night special for them."
Like the marketing and fundraising workaholic that she is, Smith said she still has individual tickets and table sponsorships available.
"It's all about the survivors," Smith added. "I do what I do for them. The Lord has been good to me, and I want to help others. I couldn't do what I do without the Lord's hand guiding me and the help of everyone who contributes time, energy or money. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart."
Anyone interested purchasing a ticket or a table sponsorship or if they are interested in making a donation or provide gifts for the survivor gift bags, can call Smith at (803) 435-4414 or (803) 460-6679 or they can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 7th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Program will be held at 5 p.m. Oct. 6 at Manning Junior High School, 1101 W.L. Hamilton Road, Manning SC 29102.
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