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Team Liberty back to fight diabetes
Kiss-A-Pig fun begins
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee, Assistant Superintendent Debbie Rodriguez, Frank Long Elementary School teacher Stacey Glandon, Liberty Elementary School teacher Tiffany Leon, Joseph Martin Elementary School teacher Felicia Thomas and Lyman Hall Elementary teacher Denise Blackmon have fun with Remi, a Japanese pot-bellied pig, Tuesday at the BoE office in Hinesville. Lee will lead Team Swinesville in the American Diabetes Associations 2014 Kiss-A-Pig campaign, and the other administrators and educators plan to participate and support the team. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

After a one-year hiatus from the annual Kiss-A-Pig Campaign, which benefits the American Diabetes Association, Liberty County is back into the “swine” of things.
This year, Team Swinesville will be led by Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee. The staff, administration and students of Frank Long, Liberty, Lyman Hall and Joseph Martin elementary schools, Snelson-Golden Middle School and Liberty County High School already have committed to participating in the campaign. Kiss-A-Pig is the ADA’s largest diabetes-awareness campaign and fundraiser. Liberty County participated for 16 straight years, until 2013, and has raised more than $817,000 for the cause. Last year, Liberty was unable to compete.
On Tuesday, the Kiss-A-Pig mascot, Remi, a Japanese pot-bellied pig, made his way to the board of education office to meet with Lee and administrators from the participating schools to officially launch Liberty County’s segment of the campaign.
Lee said the school system is delighted to continue the long tradition established by past Kiss-A-Pig campaign delegates.
“We have a lot of our children and faculty members who currently have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and we want to ensure that the community and our students understand the importance of this campaign in spreading awareness and educating everyone about this common and dangerous disease,” Lee said. “We want to get everyone on board with us so we can raise funds and one day find a cure or, at the very least, offer our support to individuals who are already facing daily challenges with the disease. Children need to be educated about the disease and know what to look for, how it is treated and, in some cases, how it can be prevented.”
Frank Long Elementary teacher Stacey Glandon, who has type 1 — or insulin-dependent — diabetes, said the campaign hits close to home for her.
“I really hope we are able to find a cure for diabetes within my lifetime, because having to deal with it every day is a struggle,” she said. “I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with what I must manage daily.”
Lyman Hall Elementary teacher Denise Blackmon, who has type 2 diabetes, said it’s important that children learn about the disease.
 “I hope to educate my students … they need to know that this exists and be aware that there are people who struggle with this every day,” she said. “They also need to know about the physical fitness side of it — staying fit and starting young.”
“Liberty County has a long history with this campaign. … Liberty County Elementary has been supporting this campaign for a long time, too. I don’t know how many years off the top of my head, but that school has consistently raised between $4,000-6,000, which is crazy money for such a little school,” ADA Savannah-area Director Maria Center said.
She said the overall campaign kickoff — featuring teams from Liberty, Chatham, Bulloch and Effingham counties as well as South Carolina — is at 4 p.m. March 1 in Savannah’s City Market.
The Kiss-A-Pig campaign pits community leaders against each other in a friendly three-month contest to raise funds for the ADA. The leader from the regional team that raises the most money will kiss a live pig. The pig is honored in the campaign due to its contributions to insulin research during the early 1900s.

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