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‘Concert 4 the Cure’ finale is Oct. 28

She was a lovely lady. I can still remember the safety of her lap — her sweet fragrance, her gentle hand. Izzie Mae Morrison was mother to nine children — my own mother included.

I was only 4 when breast cancer took her from us. The year was 1969. Being so young, I didn’t really understand it all. All I knew is that one day she was with us. The next day, she wasn’t.

Twenty-one years later, I would come to understand the tragedy of cancer all too well … when it claimed my mother Frances. She was only 60. I was 25.

When a good friend who had also lost her mom to cancer challenged me earlier this year to don a pink shirt and raise funds for cancer research, my response was a no-brainer. My only answer could be “yes.”

I owed it to my grandmother. I owed it to my mother. I even owed it to my late stepmother, Virginia, who twice battled cancer. And I owed it to the countless others I know who have had their lives altered by this terrible disease.

Real Men Wear Pink is a national campaign for the American Cancer Society. Over 260 communities are involved, from coast to coast, raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research. I am honored to be one of many.

Taking part in a national competition such as this, however, would not be easy. I knew early on that I needed help. Having made Natchez my home in 2016, I decided to call on her… and the response has been overwhelming — and heartwarming. To start with, we needed a Team Cheerleader. Longtime Natchezian Mary Lessley proved to be the perfect choice. In time, Team Natchez has grown to over 20 outstanding volunteers, all committed to a common goal: crushing cancer.

For the past four months, we have been raising money. And we have been having fun while doing it.

“Concerts 4 the Cure” has been a tremendous success, and Team Natchez is now one of the top campaigns in not only Mississippi, but in the country.

We started in July with a gospel concert at New Direction Outreach Ministry on Oak Street. In August, we gathered at beautiful Brandon Hall for an outstanding classical concert. And in September, we enjoyed a truly memorable evening at Dunleith that featured all local talent.

Altogether, we have raised more than $10,000 at these concerts. And we even managed to throw a Bachelor Auction at Smoots into the mix, where we raised more than $4,000 in just two hours.

Throughout the campaign we have enjoyed the support of numerous individuals and businesses who have been sponsors and supporters. These generous donors, too many to name in this article, have boosted us even further toward our goal. We are now poised to raise well over $20,000. Not bad for a small town in Southwest Mississippi.

Now we come to October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the final month of our campaign.

At 4 p.m. next Sunday, Oct. 28, at we will celebrate our finale event at Monmouth, featuring an “All Broadway Concert” by tenor Peter Lake and soprano Sheila Murphy Dunn and 100 percent of the concert ticket price of $75 will go to the American Cancer Society.

Our generous hosts, Warren and Nancy Reuther, are providing wine and refreshments, an optional “cash bar” and heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Our Final silent auction will take place, including a live auction, of many amazing gifts donated by numerous Natchez residents and businesses. And an “after party” will follow in Monmouth’s Restaurant 1818, and Natchez’s newest musical act, the TTrovatoTrio, will be performing. Tickets are available online at www.bontempstix.com/events/concerts-for-the-cure. Tickets may also be purchased at Nest, Natchez Coffee Co., Monmouth’s Gift Shop, and Darby’s.

Words will never express my gratitude to our beautiful city for rallying behind this important cause. We are blessed to call Natchez our home — it is a place like no other. And I will forever be grateful to Team Natchez and our many partners for your support. Together, we have made — and are making — a difference.

Dan M. Gibson is a Real Men Wear Pink candidate 2018.

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