Stewart County Schools' former transportation supervisor, Francis Carson, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2009. He died 16 months later.
DOVER, Tenn. — For the transportation department at Stewart County Schools, raising money for the fight against cancer is personal.
In 2009, the district’s former transportation supervisor, Francis Carson, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. He died 16 months later.
During Carson’s treatment, three other transportation employees were diagnosed with colon (or colorectal) cancer. One of them was Eric Watkins, Carson’s assistant director, who had taken on much of the day-to-day operations.
On top of all that, one of the district’s drivers lost his battle with lung cancer in 2011.
Rather than resign themselves to cancer’s deadly toll, the Stewart County Schools transportation department took action.
In 2010, the department decided to raise funds in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. That effort has continued in subsequent years.
Eric Watkins, now the district’s transportation supervisor, also battled colon cancer.
The district’s fundraising is a competition among its 37 school buses. The students on the bus that raises the most money win a pizza party. The competition is called “Penny Wars,” although the students and drivers can collect other coins, bills and checks.
“Last year, our drivers and students raised over $4,000 for the battle against cancer,” Watkins, now the district’s transportation supervisor, told SBF. “This all happened in a district with only 37 drivers.”
Fortunately, Watkins and the other two transportation employees who were diagnosed with colon cancer after Carson have prevailed against the disease.
“We have all survived and all are working today,” Watkins said.