Rotary learns more about CURE program

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tee Bridges, Chairman of the Board and CFO of Stone’s Stores, as well as a member of the board of directors for CURE, a statewide organization whose goal is to expand research dollars to help cure childhood cancer, brought his message of hope to Tuesday’s Rotary meeting. He was introduced by First Port City Bank President, Charles Bowles, whose family has personal experience with childhood cancer.

September has been designated in Georgia as the month to CURE childhood cancer.

As has been explained in prior articles in The Post Searchlight this month, CURE was founded in 1975 by families of children with cancer in order to purchase a $10,000 microscope needed to help identify the different types of childhood leukemia.

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The organization has since grown to where it now raises $4 million annually, of which $2 million goes to research. It has been given a four-star rating by Charity Navigator for the amount used toward research rather than administrative costs.

The organization also offers financial assistance and counseling to families on as-needed basis. The stated goal is to raise $6.5 million in the next five years.

Bridges showed photos of the Team Thomas group, which has been actively raising CURE dollars for five years, and commented on how the effects of the disease, as well as the treatments, can have long-lasting effects on the patients, even after they are considered in remission. Stones has partnered with the Team Thomas group to extend awareness of CURE’s outreach in Decatur County and neighboring counties.

He also told of one young girl who relapsed after two years and the chemo treatments no longer responded. Dr. Chang at Emory Hospital was conducting a clinical trial funded by CURE. The young lady was put in the trial group, responded well and today is alive.

Bridges then gave his own medical history, ending with the statement, “I’m here today as a direct result of what research has done.”

Gold bows and yard signs promoting CURE are available from any Stone’s Store, and all proceeds go to fund childhood cancer.

As a side-line, Bridges gave some historical background on the local Stone’s Store.

It was established in Bainbridge in 1959 by Bridges’ grandfather, James Stone and Charles Kirbo. Each man put up $10, 000 to get the business started.

Originally a one-man operation, it has now grown to a nine-store chain with 160 employees. Quitman is the latest store to be added to the Stone’s Store family, opening in February 2014.

Bridges said the chain is the largest independent building supply-home center in the state. He went on to cite three items that most influence business today. First is regulation, which he claims stifles business growth. The second is the loss of available labor, specifically contractors and “fixit” people. Third is the impact on small business made by technology. Customers want to be able to order on-line and have it “now.”

Bridges advised that is possible by going to the store’s website where you can link to distributors all over the nation, place your order and have it delivered to your home or to the local Stone’s Store.