Clay County residents become advocates at Statehouse

Friday, January 30, 2009
American Cancer Society advocates and Clay County residents Kathy White (center) and Carrol Evans talk with Dist. 44 Rep. Nancy Michael at the Indiana State House Tuesday afternoon about a law that would make Indiana smoke free. (Brazil Times photo/Ivy Jackson)

INDIANAPOLIS -- With snow falling, a small group of Clay County residents made the trek to Indianapolis to become advocates for Indiana cancer patient rights and smoke-free environments.

Local Clay County Relay For Life committee members Carrol Evans, Kathy White, Ann Hoopingarner and Olivia Herron's goals were to meet with Indiana General Assembly members Sen. John Waterman and representatives Clyde Kersey (Dist. 43), Vern Tincher (Dist. 46) and Nancy Michael (Dist. 44).

The ACS recently adopted the running theme of "Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back," and the group felt participating in the "Fight Back Indiana" initiative at the statehouse was important enough to ask for the day off from employers and school activities to be the voice of those who might not be able to speak for themselves.

"I've been here before," Hoopingarner said. "It's very important to do this."

While busy schedules didn't allow the group to meet with Waterman or Kersey, they were able to speak with Tincher and Michael between sessions at the statehouse Tuesday afternoon.

The topics of discussion were about two bills currently up for consideration by the legislature. One (SB 347/HB 1382) requires insurance providers to cover routine medical care costs for patients participating in clinical trials and the second (SB 282/HB 1213) would enact a statewide law to make all workplaces (including restaurants, bars and casinos) smoke free.

Tincher told the group he felt it was important to support the American Cancer Society because medical research is on the verge of a cure, which is not only crucial to Indiana families, but people around the world. It was part of the reason he signed the American Cancer Society's Cancer Promise in 2008.

"It's very important for people," Tincher said when asked about how cancer had personally affected his life. "I had a sister who always talked about what she was going to do after retiring at 60-years-old. It was all she ever talked about, retiring at 60. She died of cancer at a day before her 60th birthday."

New to the State House, Michael explained she had not seen the ACS Cancer Promise yet, but confirmed she would support it.

"I'm committed to the cause," Michael told the group. "When I was mayor of Greencastle, I fought to have smoke-free environments in public places. Smoke-free environments benefit everyone."

However, Michael said she would support the exclusion of private clubs from the bill.

"I learned that during the fight in Greencastle," she said.

A Luminaria ceremony was planned at the statehouse, but due to the increasingly inclement weather the Clay County group was unable to attend.

"It was nice to put faces with the names of our legislatures and to really talk with them about the issues," Evans said. "This was a really great day. I'm looking forward to coming back next year."

Locally, the American Cancer Society is sponsoring its annual Clay County Relay For Life event May 8-9, from 6 p.m.-6 a.m., at the Clay County YMCA.

For more information about the event, to make a donation or sign up as a participant, survivor or team, visit

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