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Concert, Creeper Trail bike ride to help in fight against cancer

staff report • Jul 24, 2011 at 7:35 AM

In December 2008, Penny French Garrett was diagnosed with uterine leiomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer affecting four in 1 million people each year.

The Damascus, Va., resident has had two major surgeries and 17 rounds of chemotherapy, being treated both at Blue Ridge Medical in Bristol and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In January 2010, Garrett and her family founded the 501(c)3 non-profit Penny F. Garrett Sarcoma Foundation to raise awareness and much-needed funding for rare cancer research. The National Institutes of Health define a rare disease as one with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 in the United States.

On July 29, the foundation will hold a benefit concert from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Damascus Old Mill Inn and Restaurant, 215 Imboden St., featuring acoustic guitarist Amy Henderson. Admission is $10 for those 12 and older and $5 for children younger than 12. For directions or reservations, call (276) 475-3745.

The foundation will hold the Second Annual Creeper Trail Ride to End Cancer on July 30 in Damascus. More than 60 teams, totaling 500 people, are expected to participate in the event, which includes a parade at 10 a.m., a 17-mile bike ride from Whitetop to Damascus and a five-mile walk on the Virginia Creeper Trail at 10:30 a.m. Each team has a minimum fund-raising goal of $500.

The event will conclude in Damascus Town Park with food, music, free health information and screenings, and a closing ceremony at 2:30 p.m., featuring cancer survivors and Dr. Robert Benjamin, director of the Sarcoma Medical Oncology Department at M.D. Anderson.

Sponsors are Alpha Natural Resources, The French Family, The Nicewonder Family, Highlands Wellmont Health Network, Champion Chevrolet and Cadillac Johnson City, Food City, State Farm Insurance Agents Jamea Blevins and Cliff Burnette, New River Electrical Corp., Laurel Family Drug Store, Garrett Funeral Home, Sign Language Interpreting Specialists, Quincey’s Pizza, Fisher Hollow Veterinary Clinic, Hometown Hospice, Home Nursing Services of SWVA, and the Damascus Old Mill and Restaurant.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.creepertrailridetoendcancer.com or mail a check to 29394 Zion Church Road, Damascus, Va. 24236. All gifts are tax-deductible.

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