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Fundraiser is personal for family
Sixteen-year-old Taylor Stevenson has faced more hardship in his life than most adults twice his age, but he takes it all in stride and hopes that his experience will encourage others who face a similar situation.

The Glynn Academy student has survived two brain tumors and three brain surgeries, and now has no sign of cancer in his body.

But that doesn't stop him from wanting to help others who do.

Taylor has already raised $2,000 for the Glynn County Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, April 26 and 27, and is among the top individual fundraisers. The first year he participated in the event, he brought in $7,000 for the event that is part of the society's largest national fundraiser.

"I just like how it gives people support," Taylor said.

A bright student and saxophonist, he's typically the youngest person to walk the survivors lap at Relay - the first lap of the event at the Brunswick Exchange Club Fairgrounds that honors cancer survivors - but he wants to see more young cancer survivors come out and know that they aren't alone.

The experience has changed his life.

"I don't take life for granted any more," he said.

It's that kind of passion that makes Glynn County's Relay for Life one of the top Cancer Society fundraisers in the nation, said Sharon Proudfoot, community manager for the American Cancer Society South Atlantic Division.

"I think it's encouraging to see a teenager taking charge," she said.

So far, the event has raised $137,000 before even being staged, putting it close to halfway to its goal of $302,000. A significant amount of money is turned in after the event, Proudfoot said.

Sally Stevenson, mother of Taylor, said her family got involved before her son's diagnosis, but its involvement has taken on an entirely new meaning.

"We watched the survivor lap and never thought three years later I'd be watching my son walk it," Sally Stevenson said. "It just changed your whole perspective."

Though the event is just three weeks away, it's not too late to get involved.

"We're still looking for ... six to 10 (fundraising) teams to sign up to get to our final goal of 98 teams," Proudfoot said. "I never want to scare (teams) that we're in the month of the event, but you can do a lot in four weeks."

Teams are beginning to pull together their final efforts, with some staging barbecue sales, yard sales and raffles.

It's something Sally Stevenson looks forward to. She wants to see people leave the overnight event with a renewed sense of hope.

"You don't leave there disappointed," she said. "You leave feeling upbeat and with hope."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

Get involved

Fundraising teams can sign up for the Glynn County Relay for Life by calling the American Cancer Society at 265-7117. Relay for Life will be from 7 p.m. April 26 to 7 a.m. April 27 at the Brunswick Exchange Club Fairgrounds, 101 Emory Dawson Road, Brunswick.



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