Breast cancer has affected numerous families in Newton County, but everywhere you look — especially downtown — there are signs of hope. And on Sunday there will also be sounds of hope.
Local musicians Mack McKibben and The Drive Time Band, Madison Lunt and Drew Parker will perform during the second annual Sounds of Hope concert from, 4–5:30 p.m., Sunday on the square. The concert is free.
The concert kicks off October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month events, along with the annual Portraits of Hope program, where photo portraits of cancer survivors are displayed at downtown Covington businesses. This year there are more than 60 portraits, so they’ll be displayed in stores extending beyond the square, according to local volunteers.
The concert was added for the first time last year, because McKibben, whose wife Deborah McKibben is a breast cancer survivor, volunteered to put on a concert to raise money for the breast cancer research.
“I think everyone has been affected somehow by this horrible disease in one way or another," McKibben said last year. "This is just a way to cheer on these ladies and say ‘We love you, we admire you and we really want to support you.’"
The 11-member Drive Time Band draws influences from its members’ backgrounds in jazz, blues, country metal, pop and symphonic backgrounds, while Parker is a country music singer and songwriter and Lunt is a singer.
Sponsorships are available, and for $250 a person or organization can reserve eight chairs and a table for the concert; proceeds benefit The Hope Boutique at Newton Medical Center. Call the hospital’s volunteer office at 770-788-6553.
National Breast Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research.
Newton Medical Auxiliary volunteer Kay Goff said the auxiliary has been putting portraits out for about the past eight years. She said the event started with 12 portraits and has grown to 62 portraits this year.
“It’s a wonderful awareness tool,” Goff said, noting that a lot of people walk along the square and see the portraits. “They see and read the stories, and say ‘I haven’t had a mammogram in five years,’ and call us for information. It works great.”
The portraits are taken by local photographer Kaye Plitt.
Local restaurants and stores will be open, and the restrooms at the Historic Courthouse will be open to the public, according to organizer Lisa Brooks, with Newton Medial Center’s Volunteer Services division. County Chairman Keith Ellis, County Clerk Jackie Smith and employee Lisa Conner are donating time to man the building so the restrooms can be accessible.
Bone marrow registration drive
In addition to the portraits and concert, there will also be a bone marrow registration drive. Sponsored by Be The Match Registry and organized by Scoops owner Susan Kirk, anyone from ages 18–-44 can join the registry, while those older than 44 are encouraged to donate to help facilitate donor matches; adding a new member to the registry costs $100, according to an email from Rod Gunn, an account executive for the Be The Match foundation. There is no cost for a person to join the registry.
“Every year, thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other life-threatening diseases. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a matching donor,” according to bethematch.org.
Later in the month, Newton Medical Center is sponsoring a Hope Luncheon Oct. 22 at 11:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 1139 Usher St., Covington. Single tickets are $10 and a reserved table for 10 people is $100. Proceeds benefit The Hope Boutique.