Joel Osteen of Osteen & Osteen law firm is this year’s candidate for Team Liberty’s annual Kiss-A-Pig campaign, which raises money for the American Diabetes Association.
Claude Dryden, owner and operator of Dryden Enterprises in Hinesville, formally introduced Osteen to a group of Team Liberty campaign organizers Wednesday during a planning meeting at Holton’s Seafood in Midway.
“One thing that was crying out to us was having the right person as our candidate this year and with that, I would like to introduce you to our candidate, Joel Osteen,” Dryden said. “We have (chosen) the right man that people can really get behind.”
Osteen, whose grandfather died from diabetes-related complications, said he is ready and willing to help with the cause.
“They called me and asked me if I would do it and, of course, I was glad to get involved,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of it. They do it every year and it’s a great cause.”
Liberty County has participated in the campaign for 14 years and the team’s 2008 candidate, Danny Creasy, won the right to kiss a pig at the ADA’s annual gala after beating out rival Team Chatham County Public Schools.
Creasy is Osteen’s campaign manager this year. The pair and the rest of the team have a $100,000 fundraising goal.
Dryden, also a campaign participant, said Team Liberty will focus its efforts on a two-day event that includes the eighth annual Sporting Clays Fun Shoot at the Dorchester Shooting Preserve, which always proves to be the single largest ADA fundraiser.
“The clays shoot has been so successful even in these tough years … We still had a good turnout last year,” Dryden said. “And what has made this so successful is that it’s so much fun. We normally have people start calling us before we even send out invitations saying, ‘When is it going to be, I want to make sure I mark it down so I can be there.’”
The shoot, which has raised more than $300,000 for the ADA so far, is scheduled for April 2. In addition, organizers have added a dining and auction event slated for Friday, April 1.
“On Friday, April 1, there will be a wild game supper and auction billed as ‘Wild Taste of Dorchester’ at the Dorchester Shooting Preserve,” said Maria Center, director for the Southeast Georgia and Coastal South Carolina American Diabetes Association. “This event will feature amazing food, beverages and fabulous auction items including vacation packages, cocktail cruises, Lowcountry boils, dinners and wine tastings and much, much more.”
Creasy said dinner tickets cost $50 per person and will be limited to 150 attendees.
Center said the official Kiss-A-Pig candidate introduction and kick-off party is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, March 5 on Savannah’s River Street.
“This year’s campaign will include candidates from South Carolina as well as from communities throughout Southeast Georgia,” she said.
The theme for this year’s campaign, “Swine Wars,” is a take-off of the “Star Wars” films.
Center said last year’s Team Liberty Candidate, Liberty Regional Hospital Authority Chairman Jon Long, did a great job of raising money and awareness of diabetes. Team Liberty raised $51,000 last year and organized an “Alert Day” as part of the ADA’s effort to find and treat undiagnosed diabetes patients.
According to Long’s campaign managers, Rene’ Harwell and Donna Cochran, Liberty Regional Medical Center screened more than 60 people during “Alert Day” at the hospital.
“People can walk around for 10 years with diabetes and not know they have it. By the time they start experiencing symptoms, damage has already been done. This is why diabetes is called ‘the silent killer,’” Harwell said. “The screenings we did gave people the opportunity to find out if they needed to go for further testing. The next ‘Alert Day’ will be in March and we’ll be getting the word out.”
With Team Liberty looking to double their fundraising efforts this year, Dryden said there is plenty of work to be done before the April events.
“Our goal is to not only have Joel win this thing this year, but our ultimate goal is to raise money for diabetes,” he said.
The candidate belonging to the team that raises the most money will kiss a pig at the ADA’s annual gala on May 7. The pig is the focal point of the signature event because the animal’s pancreas was the first source of insulin for people who were living with diabetes
All funds raised during the Kiss-a-Pig campaign benefit American Diabetes Association, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to curing diabetes and improving the lives of people affected by the disease. For more information about the Wild Taste of Dorchester, the eighth annual annual Friends for Diabetes Fun Shoot or Kiss-A-Pig, call Center at 912-353-8110, ext. 3091 or e-mail email@example.com.