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Newton Medical Auxiliary raises funds for new equipment to detect cancer
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The Auxiliary Board of Newton Medical Center held a general luncheon meeting Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Covington.

At the meeting President of the Auxiliary Board Michelle Green presented NMC’s board of directors with a check for $500,000 for digital mammography equipment.

Through a year’s worth of fund raisers including $5 jewelry sales, barbecues and the annual Spring Gala, the auxiliary was able to collect funds for technology which can detect cancer much earlier than older equipment.

"Both men and women will benefit by knowing this type of diagnostic equipment is available here at home," said Jim Weadick, hospital CEO and administrator, as he thanked the assembled hospital volunteers.

According to Green, fundraising efforts this year will benefit a new neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital.

The guest speaker at the luncheon was Brigadier General Stewart Rodeheaver, who also recently spoke at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting.

"I’ve had the privilege to walk and work among heroes for 38 years," Rodeheaver said.

Having served tours in North Africa, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, he now trains soldiers before they ship out overseas.

He said the average Army infantryman male is between the ages of 22 and 25.

"They are trained very well, but that’s all they know how to do," Rodeheaver said.

National Guard servicemen, explained Rodeheaver, are generally a bit older and have wide varieties of life skills and career expertise.

He mentioned how even Adolf Hitler said reserve units from the United Kingdom and United States were the most resilient.

"He said that even if you beat the soldiers, the mechanics and farmers would come back and get you."

Rodeheaver detailed several times when volunteers rallied to perform a certain task, which may or may not have been assigned, but was necessary in the eyes of the volunteers.

Servicemen in Rodeheaver’s brigade in Iraq found the now famous "Baby Noor," who was born with the debilitating spinal birth defect spina bifida.

Volunteers came to her rescue calling friends and family in the states who eventually arranged her flight to America for surgery that would allow her to live a more comfortable life.

"The Army would say she’s a casualty of war and leave her," Rodeheaver said, "but volunteers stepped up to help."

Another instance of volunteering led Rodeheaver’s men to enemy troops plotting to plant a roadside bomb. After supplying Bedouin children with donated shoes so they could attend school (a law Sadaam Hussein enacted to punish Bedouin tribes for opposing him) parents of the children came forward with information about the enemy’s plans and whereabouts.

"It’s all about people taking care of people," Rodeheaver said. "That type of thing the Army can’t pay you to do."

Rodeheaver’s last story was about restoring and establishing electricity in small desert towns in Iraq. He put in a request for the Army Corps of Engineers, who responded that the project would be underway in a year. Rodeheaver couldn’t wait that long.

Out of 5,000 men he was able to find 40 who were either engineers or electricians with the experience need to bring light into small, earthen homes.

"I said you’re not infantry now — you’re linemen," Rodeheaver said.

He concluded his speech by saying volunteers go above and beyond everywhere and by doing so, they plant seeds of optimism.

"By volunteering the way you do," he said, "you bring hope to where it otherwise might not be."