Teaming up to serve others and fight a common foe – cancer

By  | April 7, 2019 | Filed under: News

ATHENS-The fight against cancer is uniting unusual team members from Athens Football and East Limestone Band to Athens Police and Athens Fire.


In years past, first responders, politicians and school fans have competed against each other to see who could raise the most in tips at the annual City of Athens Relay for Life Celebrity Waiters Night. This year, however, waiters are teaming up in pairs to serve at Applebee’s on April 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and collect tips.


For example, East Limestone Band Director Jennifer “Miss Sam” Janzen, who individually has won the top Celebrity Waiter title in recent years, is teaming up with Athens High Football Coach Cody Gross. They are the Team Spirit duo.


Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Athens City Councilman Frank Travis are the Political Power Team. Athens Firefighter Jordan Pugh and Athens Police Officer Michael Stainbrook are the First Responders Team.


“I am excited to be a Celebrity Waiter and to represent Athens High School as Miss Sam and I raise money to fight cancer,” Gross said. “All of our tips will be used to support the American Cancer Society. Please come see us on April 9.”


Janzen said Athens and East compete on the field but unite for a good cause like supporting those who fight cancer.


“I hate cancer. I hate it with every ounce of my soul,” Janzen said. “I will team up with anyone and everyone if it means we can help in the fight against it.”


She laughed when she added, “I’ll even team up with an Athens High football coach and politicians. I ask East and Athens fans to come out and join us and support our common foe, cancer.”


The competition between teams adds some lighthearted family fun to an event that is serious when it comes to supporting Relay for Life.


According to the American Cancer Society:


  • Every $100 raised can help provide four personalized information kits to newly diagnosed cancer patients at a time when they need it most.
  • Every $200 raised can cover the cost of eight free rides to treatment or a follow-up appointment.
  • Every $250 can help provide five nights of free lodging at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge® when those fighting cancer have to travel away from home for treatment.


In addition, the American Cancer Society currently is funding 12 grants in Alabama at more than $6 million. The grants are at UAB and University of Alabama for cancer research.


“We like to joke and poke fun at each other over who can be the most popular as a Celebrity Waiter and bring in the most money, but at the end of the day, we are all putting in 100 percent effort for this fight,” Mayor Marks said.


Stainbrook, for example, is using all of his skills to “protect and serve” and help the First Responders Team. He will be dressed as The Black Panther while Pugh will be in part of his turnout gear. They have created their own First Responders Team event flyer to encourage diners to support them with their tips.


Those who cannot attend the event at Applebee’s on April 9 can still support their favorite Celebrity Waiter Team. Send a tax-deductible donation to City of Athens Relay, c/o Holly Hollman, P.O. Box 1089, Athens, AL 35612. Make checks out to City of Athens Relay. Please include which team should get credit for the donation.

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