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Kiss-A-Pig contestants ham it up
Team Liberty candidate Jon Long and co-campaign managers Rene Harwell and Donna Cochrane, dressed in full Harry Potter attire, were among the candidates at the 2010 Kiss-A-Pig campaign kickoff Saturday on Savannah’s River Street. This year’s theme is "Harry Porker and the Blood Sugar Prince Battle for Control." - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

Team Liberty County’s planned activities

• March 23: ADA alert day in the lobby of Liberty Regional Medical Center. The hospital will have free screenings from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. For accurate test results, refrain from eating two hours before the test. Only consume water or diet drinks. For more information, call 369-9491.

• March 26: Golf Tournament at Sapelo Hammock

• April 10: Annual Dorchester sporting clay event. This is Team Liberty’s signature event and in the past, it has raised more than $300,000 for the ADA. For more information, call Deborah Wells at 369-9491.

• April 24: Sunbury crab cake cook-off

• May 14: Pink Hair Day at LRMC. If Liberty Regional Medical Center employees are able to raise $10,000 by May 14, hospital CEO Scott Kroell said he will dye his hair pink.

• May 15: Motorcycle "porker" run

Looking to stop America’s "silent killer" with the help of the community’s youth, the American Diabetes Association officially launched its 2010 Kiss-A-Pig campaign Saturday at Rousakis Plaza on Savannah’s River Street.

Liberty County Hospital Authority Chairman Jon Long, dressed as "Albus Porkledore," was among several candidates at the celebration who have vowed to help raise money for the ADA.

Long’s costume tied in with this year’s theme, "Harry Porker and the Blood Sugar Prince Battle for control." According to Maria Center, director of the Southeast Georgia and Coastal South Carolina American Diabetes Association, the child-friendly theme will provide a platform for creating awareness about type 1 diabetes, which strikes in childhood or young adulthood.

"For the first time in Kiss-A-Pig, children living with diabetes will be in the contest and these youth ambassadors will help put a face on an invisible and serious disease," Center said during Saturday’s kickoff as she introduced the participating children, who were dressed as students from Hogwarts’ school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The youth ambassadors are members of Team Savannah Chatham County Public School, Liberty County’s biggest opponent in the Kiss-A-Pig campaign. This year, the challengers have dubbed themselves Team Hogwarts School of Glycemic Control.

It’s Team Liberty County’s 14th year competing in Kiss-A-Pig and Long said his group has decided to pull out all the stops and earn the right to kiss Hamlet the pig on May 21 at the campaign’s annual gala.

"I’m so glad to be here today and join in the fight in that evil thing called diabetes," he said. "We are ready to get started and raise a lot of money. We wish we could just wave a wand or throw some magic powder out and do away with that disease but we know that is not the way it works."

Although Team Liberty is not setting a specific fundraising goal, the hospital authority chairman and his co-campaign managers, Rene Harwell and Donna Cochrane, are busy planning events designed to get the donations flowing.

Until 1921, there was no treatment for diabetes and being diagnosed with the disease was a death sentence. The discovery of insulin, originally derived from the pancreas of a pig, sustains life for those who are insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetics. Therefore, the event honors the pig for saving countless lives.

While Team Liberty members have their sights set on watching Long smooch a swine, Harwell said it really doesn’t matter who wins in the end.

"Because in the end, the people who benefit are the American Diabetes Association and all the people who suffer from this dreaded disease," she said. "But we feel confident that our Albus Porkledore will be kissing the pig on May 21."

Team Liberty is competing against eight other community teams. In 2008, Liberty County candidate Danny Creasy kissed the pig and broke all the records when he helped raise $160,000. It was the first time Team Liberty kissed the pig.

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