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Valentines fundraiser to be a heart-warming event
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For many people, Valentine's Day is a day for love. It's usually a day to just be with those you love and shower them with gifts.

However, this Valentine's Day for Minister Margie Miller and New Hope Baptist Church will be an opportunity to raise awareness and provide a fighting chance for life.

That life belongs to Tawana Bradley, a 39-year-old mother. She is a member of Miller's church who is living with a rare lung disease. And today, the church will sponsor a Valentine's benefit dinner in her honor.

"We know people go to eat and look for entertainment during Valentine's so we thought it would be a good occasion ... for lovers to pay money and eat for a cause," Miller said.

Bradley, a transplant candidate, was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 2003. She wrote on her Web page: "I am in need of financial help to have a lung transplant; therefore, I am reaching out to family, church, friends and others."

"The goal (of the benefit dinner) is to raise about $5,000, and the Cancer Society will match each dollar made," Miller said, mentioning that the Bible alludes to being a donor.

Miller said she's known about Bradley's disease, which is only treatable and not curable, for about two years, but she is not too familiar with it. However, this isn't the first event her church and others have sponsored.

"We had a walk-a-thon last summer in Athens," Miller said. "It went well; we raised $2,000."

Bradley's former post office coworkers had a yard sale, and her best friend put on a concert at another church to raise funds for her, according to Miller.

Bradley admits on her Web page that she is not working, on disability and doesn't know how long her insurance will last. Therefore she needs help covering expenses, such as co-payments and other payments her insurance doesn't cover.

Miller said the guest speaker at the event will be Bobby Howard, former president of Georgia Transplant Foundation Board of Directors and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He is currently serving as manager of the Multicultural Education Program, Lifelink of Georgia, and is a kidney transplant recipient. Howard will provide tips about becoming a donor.

"I always wanted to be a donor," Miller said. "And because of ignorance I didn't put it on my license."

Besides hearing from a speaker, attendees can expect entertainment in the form an Atlanta-based comedian, soloists, poetry, home-cooked food and door prizes.

Miller said she's been asked several time if there will dancing.

"We're going to try to do everything except dancing," she said, explaining that it is a church function, after all.

And although bodies won't be warmed from the embrace of a slow dance during the event, hearts should be warmed from the thought of making a difference in Bradley's life.

Miller said the most motivating thing is "the fact of giving life to someone else."

Sunday's benefit dinner will be at Turner Lake Complex from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling the church or at the door.

New Hope Baptist Church is located at 2207 Brown St. and can be reached at (770) 786-1709.

Donations for Bradley can be made by visiting her Web page,, or by mail a check to P.O. Box 2874, Covington, Ga., 30015.