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Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A report on gas vouchers for cancer patients

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WHAT WAS THAT? City of Nashville had an extended test of its storm warning siren system Wednesday morning from 10-10:30, unless a REAL storm threatened.

Nashville’s first storm warning siren was a yellow Civil Defense horn which was mounted on a pole under the water tower at the corner of Third and Clark.

It swiveled 360 degrees and you could hear it from as far away as 3-4 blocks. If the wind was blowing right you could hear it maybe six blocks. The Jaycee Club got together with the late John L. Shaddox, school principal and Army reservist, who procured the siren. City of Nashville paid for it.

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IT’S OVERDUE. It’s time to report to you on my little project to assist cancer patients. Through the generosity of many people for almost 10 years, I have been able to distribute $20 gasoline vouchers to help people with transportation expenses to their cancer treatment, chemo, x-ray, lab work, doctor’s appointments, etc.

Along the way, many wonderful people have contributed money for the project — I want to emphasize that this project is NOT charity. It is a way for regular people to show our fellow man and woman that we care about them and we encourage them in their battle against cancer.

I started the project a couple of months after my wife’s death in 2007. In the last months of her life, our car drove to Little Rock and back often four times a week. Gas prices were even higher then. Some friends of ours gave us a gasoline credit card. It sure helped with our expenses, but it also helped turn back the creeping feeling of despair that lurked so closely.

I moped around a couple of months feeling sorry for myself after Jane died. Then, I decided to do something to ‘pay back’ for my blessings. It occurred to me that I could help other cancer patients, just like our friends helped us, and that was the birth of this project.

I’ve never been happy with the name. It’s just Louie Graves Cancer Project. If you can come up with a better name I’d appreciate hearing it. Make it something peppy that will catch CNN”s attention.

By the next time I buy a sheet of gasoline vouchers, the project will have distributed about $50,000 to cancer patients for their travel expenses.

There are regular donors, like the Golden Circle Sunday School Class at Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville. I have a friend — a former political office holder — who anonymously sends a check each month.

Then there are people like the folks at Husqvarna who recently held a fund-raiser for the project. They raised $868. But wait, Husqvarna matched the first $500 so it means $1,368 for gasoline vouchers.

The project is not audited; gifts are not tax-deductible. Donors just have to trust me when I say that every penny has gone to the cancer patients. My colleagues here at the Leader office distribute them when I’m gone. Because of a problem we faced last year, we keep a list of names and dates.

We’ve made cancer friends along the way. We’ve lost some heartbreaking fights, but we’ve also celebrated some victories.

If you know of someone who has to drive to Little Rock or Hot Springs or Texarkana for cancer treatment, suggest that they drop by our office and get a gasoline voucher. It can be used at Road Mart in Nashville, and the wonderful folks there will give you a soft drink for the trip.

I am also sad to report that the woman who made copies of the vouchers and used them fraudulently last year has stopped making restitution payments. She didn’t have cancer. The court has issued a contempt warrant and sooner or later she will be picked up by the police.

I am sorry she has had a hard time making the restitution, but she wasn’t stealing from me. She was stealing from sick people.

I’m trying hard to forgive her. Not yet. I will not forget the money she owes the project.

This is a good time for me to tell you how much I admire the volunteers in the Relay for Life and the local chapters of the American Cancer Society. God bless the men and women who search for a cure for cancer. And if you or someone you love has cancer, God bless you, too!

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

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WORD GAMES.

The twins: Free and Clear. They don’t owe nobody nuthin’ and they like it that way.

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HE SAID: “Sailed this day nineteen leagues, and determined to count less than the true number, that the crew might not be dismayed if the voyage should prove long.” Christopher Columbus, sailor in the service of Queen Isabella

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SHE SAID: “Part of my act is meant to shake you up. It looks like I’m being funny, but I’m reminding you of other things. Life is tough, darling. Life is hard. And we better laugh at everything; otherwise, we’re going down the tube.” Joan Rivers, comic

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SWEET DREAMS, Baby