Jefferson County couple helps raise funds for ACS CAN's Lights of Hope
Dan and Linda Hart understand what it means to watch a loved one battle cancer, to be a caregiver for a spouse going through the disease.
Both lost their first spouses to cancer in 1999, leading to their eventual involvement for Relay for Life of Jefferson County and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the advocacy branch of ACS.
With COVID-19 throwing a wrench in many plans for both Relay for Life and ACS CAN, the couple continues to work to ensure cancer research continues, and there’s a voice looking out for those who need one. The Harts are currently raising funds for ACS CAN’s Lights of Hope, a national event that normally sees the National Mall blanketed in tens of thousands of lights in honor of those fighting or who lost their battle with cancer, a symbol of hope and a symbol to lawmakers for the need for action.
“We are fundraising for Lights of Hope so ACS CAN may continue its mission advocating for everyone affected by cancer, including the estimated 12,380 West Virginians who will receive a cancer diagnosis this year,” the couple said. “ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, works with lawmakers to pass policies that help prevent cancer and ensure those who are diagnosed with the disease have access to the care they need, as well as make cancer research funding a top priority at the state and federal level.”
The Harts and ACS CAN are offering bags for $10 to honor loved ones effected by cancer, the money going toward helping in the advocacy to lawmakers.
Those lights will then be displayed in Jefferson County before having photos shipped off to the state and eventually national ACS CAN representatives, who will create a live stream of lights around the country on Sept. 12. The live
stream will replace the normal gathering in Washington D.C., a sight the Harts got to see for the first time last year.
“It was quite a sight,” Dan said. “It was very moving,” Linda added, saying they, of course, found their own bags, as well as those of friends’ from all over the state. “I can’t wait to see (the virtual event).” The couple will send photos to those who purchased a bag, as well, to continue promoting social distancing, while also allowing everyone to see their lights. Being involved in Relay for Life for two decades and ACS CAN for 10 years, the couple has seen people bond after going through losing a loved one and people seek answers.
“Cancer is a beast,” Linda said. Dan added: “We both went through the same experiences of caregiving for our spouses.” It’s for people like themselves and those who need answers, whether it be caregiver or patient, why the couple continues to fight. Dan said there’s been added stress to families effected by cancer during the virus
outbreak, patients worried about entering hospitals for treatment or having trouble finding treatment because of the beds taken at hospitals. “It is a widespread thing,” he said.
“We’re dealing with COVID and all, but we can’t let up on research for cancer.” Following the virtual event, the couple’s fight won’t end as the pair then puts on the advocate hat, something they’ve done for years from going to Charleston to meet
with Sens. Joe Manchin, W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to participating in lobbying days. The Harts will participate in a virtual leadership summit on Sept. 15 in which the pair continues to raise awareness to lawmakers. A Light of Hope can be purchased through the Harts at http://action.fightcancer.org/goto/DanLinda_Hart.