The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Mother of 3 brings much motivation to Relay for Life


There are people we encounter as we go through life who make our day a little brighter.

Lori Petty is one who evokes a smile and seems to bring a little sunshine into a room when she enters.

Petty's cheerful attitude is surprising to some when they discover her recent life story. In January 1997, the mother of three discovered that her youngest son, Clint, had a brain tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor was successful, although Clint lost the sight in one eye.

Two years ago, Petty was diagnosed with cancer and had one of her kidneys removed. Her middle son, Josh, has Tourette syndrome. In 1999 her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Also last year, her father had six heart bypasses.

However, when Petty talks about what some would consider overwhelming problems, the focus is on her friends, how good they have been to her, how lucky she was to catch her cancer when she did, and she talks about the future.

In the immediate future, Petty is spearheading the involvement of her company, Gold's Gyms of Fayette County, in the upcoming American Cancer Society Relay for Life, a fund-raiser for the society.

Co-worker Linda Famularo, fitness director for the gym, says of Petty, “I think the world of her. She is a remarkable person, she is extremely friendly and always has a smile for you. Most would never know that she had gone through so much.”

Sales manager Selina Gaspard said, “Lori is a very generous, loving person. She's a good friend.”

Petty discovered her cancer accidentally. She had been dieting and had lost close to 50 pounds. She said, “I had back aches and was not feeling good, but I just thought it was a combination of the dieting and another fairly minor physical problem I was having.”

She was undergoing medical testing for her other problem when a tumor was discovered. She said, “I wasn't expecting anything. I went to the clinic alone. I remember driving home wondering how I was going to tell my children.”

Petty feels she was very lucky. She said, “If I had waited one more month it would have been too late.”

She has a lot of support from her husband, Mark, friends, neighbors and what she calls her “Gold's Gym family.” When she was diagnosed with cancer, she said, “within 15 minutes of making a call to tell someone at the gym that I had cancer, five people were knocking on my door. Each of the staff members and Varner Holmes, co-owner of the gym, independently chose to come be there for me.”

After her operation, gym members brought meals to her house for 60 straight days. She received over 200 cards from gym members and staff “that I still have,” she noted.

“When you think your friends can't get any nicer, they get nicer,” she continued.

Recently the family had another scare. Petty's sister had a tumor that they initially thought might be cancerous. Fortunately, the tumor was benign, although it was very large.

Petty, who is the operations manager at Gold's Gym, has been brainstorming with others to come up with unique ways to raise money for the Relay for Life. She also is serving as the firm's “cheerleader” in rousing members and staff to sign up to participate in the overnight event.

Petty's personal encounters with cancer are spurring her desire to work hard in raising money for the Cancer Society. She seems to be churning with ideas to support the group through the Relay for Life.

The Relay for Life will run from 8 p.m. Friday, May 12 until noon Saturday, May 13. Teams camp out, eat together and have fun while at least one member of each team walks on the track throughout the all-night event.

The fund-raiser will be at Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone.

The opening lap of the relay is reserved for cancer survivors. After the first lap, other team members join in taking their turns around the track.

Participants are treated to music and entertainment throughout the event. Prizes are given away and numerous fun contests are conducted. Saturday morning, Gold's Gym will get things moving with a work-out session designed for “every fitness level,” says Petty. Petty and owner J.D. Holmes will be giving away memberships, tee shirts, free classes and other gifts as part of the relay.

Holmes noted, “Cancer has touched just about everyone in some way — whether it's personally, like Lori, a close family member or friend. We will do everything we can to help in the fight against this disease.”

Team members are asked to raise a minimum of $100 each, with an overall team goal of $2,500 to $3,000. According to Norma Johnson, relay coordinator, “Our goal is to raise $65,000 from the relay. We currently have 22 teams and expect to sign up a few more during the next week.”

Local sponsors are supporting the relay. MCI, Powertel, Gold's Gym and others are currently sponsoring the upcoming event. Many other local businesses provide gifts, prizes, entertainment, food and other items.

Friday at 10 p.m. there is a “luminary ceremony.” Luminaries are purchased for $10 each, or three for $25, in honor of someone who survived cancer, or in memory of someone who did not. Luminaries are lighted candles inside a weighted bag. As the luminaries are lighted, the names on the bags are read.

For information regarding the Relay for Life, phone Norma Johnson at 770-969-9073 or 770-460-8920. Donations may be mailed to: American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, Attn: Norma Johnson, Chairman, P.O. Box 965, Fairburn, Ga. 30213.

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