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Relay is fight for friends, family

American Cancer Society fundraiser coming up

POSTED: May 1, 2009 12:45 p.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Cancer survivor Anttonia Hofmann, left, and team captain Tory Baker prepare garlic bread during a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Relay for Life. Hofmann and Baker are on the Button-Gwinnett Elementary School team.

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Four friends sit in a circle in an office at the Button-Gwinnett Elementary School media center.
One is a teacher, one is a media specialist, one a teacher’s aide and the other is a media assistant.   
They’ve shared laughs, tears and memories, but most importantly they said they have always been a team, supporting one another through rough times.
“Soon as I found out I had been diagnosed with cancer, I called Tory and told her the news,” media assistant Anttonia Hofmann said. “It was hard, it was shocking, but my husband, my friends and my co-workers stood by me.”
On Dec. 17, 2007, at the age of 33, Hofmann was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. The news came as a surprise to everyone, especially co-worker Tory Baker, who had lost her grandfather to cancer the year before.
“We had all had a great Relay [for Life] the year before and Mrs. Hofmann was the only one who did not have a personal connection [to the cause], and then, all of a sudden it was her,” Baker said.
Baker serves as the captain for the Button-Gwinnett Relay for Life team. She said Hofmann’s diagnoses caused an immediate change in the entire team’s perspective. 
Team member Dennis Cooke, the teacher, said he could attest to that.
“My dad had just passed away from cancer in January and that was a big shocker,” Cooke said. “Then, when we found out about ‘Hoffie’ it was a big heartbreaker, but we put our trust in God and put our best foot forward.”
Step-by-step, Baker said, the team walked in hopes of one day finding a cure.
“Last year our [Relay for Life] theme was walking for one of our own,” Baker said, “and we raised nearly $7,000.”
Hofmann said she has since been given a clean bill of health.
She started treatments in early 2008 and by July, she said, there were no signs of the disease left.
The fight might be over for “Hoffie,” but Baker and the other team members said the battle isn’t finished yet.
“As touched as we all are,” team member Tatjana Smith said. “What we do is not only for the ones with cancer, but it is also for the loved ones and the people touched by [the disease].”
This year, Baker said the team has already raised more than $5,000 for the cause and will continue to raise money until May 8, the day of the Liberty County Relay for Life.
“Our team has a unique spirit and energy because of what we have been through,” Baker said.
Cooke and the other team members said they are hoping and praying their personal accounts and their efforts will one day turn more cancer victims into survivors.
“That’s the good thing about Relay for Life,” Cooke said, “You can take something so negative and you can turn it into something positive where everybody is unified for one cause.”

 

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