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‘Cast Off’ nets $70,000 for Cancer Navigators

June 4, 2018

For the Martinez sisters, Kaitlyn, 13, and Rhianna, 10, the Cast Off Against Cancer gathering Sunday at Barron Stadium was a celebration of their little brother.

Five-year-old Daniel Martinez beat leukemia and was there at their side.

“He was diagnosed when he was 3,” said their mother, Beatrice Martinez, with a broad smile. “He went through a bone marrow transplant and is doing really well now.”

Others came to the Cancer Navigators’ annual fundraiser to remember loved ones lost to the disease in its various forms.

Dawn Stephens, with her sister Hope Rittenhouse and niece Candice Rittenhouse, were carrying colorful bouquets for the Daisy Drop — the ceremony where flowers are dropped into the Oostanaula River in honor of those fighting cancer.

Orange flowers signified the kidney cancer that took Stephens’ mother the day before Thanksgiving; green was for the liver cancer her husband succumbed to a year and a half ago.

“We miss our momma and I miss my husband every day,” Stephens said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.”

A little over 50 people braved the humid heat to participate in the annual event, which caps a three-month blitz of fundraising for Cancer Navigators. The nonprofit partners with a wide range of organizations to provide resources and educational materials for cancer patients and their families.

Community Outreach Manager Scharla Battle said the hot weather cut into attendance but support remains high. This year’s goal was $40,000 but teams raised more than $70,000.

“We are over the top!” she said. “And every bit of it stays right here, taking care of our mothers and fathers, our neighbors, in Floyd, Polk, Chattooga and Bartow counties.”