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Renasant Bank, law enforcement kick off breast cancer awareness month

VALLEY — Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been observed every October in the U.S. since 1985. Its purpose is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

Thursday marked a fourth straight year local law enforcement officers joined with the staff at Renasant Bank in Valley in a fun way to kick off a local observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. For the fourth year in a row, it took place on Oct. 1st.

There was a jail bail event on the lawn in front of the bank. Local law enforcement celebrities such as Sheriff Sid Lockhart and Major T.J. Wood of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, Police Chief Tommy Weldon and School Resource Officer Lt. Sandra Crim of the Valley Police Department, Chief Johnny Wood and Patrol Commander Richard Casner of the Lanett Police Department and long-time security officer David Maddux were inside a makeshift calaboose in front of the bank. People could spring them by paying their “bail” in the form of a donation to the research foundation.

“We made a few hundred dollars our first year of doing this,” said branch manager Nancy Warren-Holland. “People knew more about what we were doing the next year, and donations rose to more than $4,000. The third-year it went to $7,500. We are not expecting a great year this year because of COVID-19, but we’ll appreciate everything that comes in.”

Something special this year on the lawn in front of the bank was Meagan’s Car. It’s in memory of Meagan Bonner, who died at a very young age several years ago of a rare form of cancer.

The car is a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro. All Star Graphics of Lanett wrapped the car in hot pink.

Also out front was an ambulance that’s been outfitted by the Central Alabama chapter of Pink Heals. It was donated to them by the city of Chelsea, Alabama near Birmingham in honor of the former mayor’s wife, who beat cancer and is now doing well. It’s known as “June.”

The chapter has three more pink vehicles, an SUV that’s a command vehicle and two fire trucks.

“They are all named for someone who inspired us,” said Ronald Moorehead of the Central Alabama chapter. “We all volunteer our time to do fundraisers that help keep these wheels rolling.”

The local law enforcement officers take a lot of good-natured kidding while they are behind the wooden bars of the calaboose. One person called Lockhart on his cell phone and asked if he wanted to break jail.

In mock anger, the sheriff responded, “If I had a dollar for every time you called me with some kind of complaint, I’d have the money to get out on bail.”

Crim wore a pink pair of boxing gloves during her stay behind bars. When people asked her why she was wearing them she’d joke back “When you lock me up with five men, you’ve got to let me protect myself somehow.”

When fundraising reached the $2,500 mark, Wood and bank employee Wanda Oliver were selected to be “pied,” or hit in the face with pie shells filled with whipped cream. They sat in chairs in front of the bank with their arms behind them. They both looked like they’d rather be almost anyplace else on earth as the sheriff approached with a pie piled high with whipped cream in each hand.

The crowd counted to three, and he shoved the pies in their face.

“Dang, Sid!” Oliver said kiddingly as she wiped the pie off her face.

“Nancy made me do it!” he said sheepishly. “She told me I’d be in jail all day long if I didn’t.”

After Oliver and Wood were cleaned up, both said they were more than happy to do something that helps breast cancer. research and those who have breast cancer.