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.
“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.