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‘Lights of Love’ ceremony celebrates 30th anniversary

Dr. Bill Buntin, a retired anesthesiologist and cancer survivor, was the tree lighter at the annual “Lights of Love” ceremony at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Monday. More than $50,000 was raised this year for Lights of Love. The program was dedicated to Gail Cameron.

Dr. Bill Buntin, a retired anesthesiologist and cancer survivor, was the tree lighter at the annual “Lights of Love” ceremony at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Monday. More than $50,000 was raised this year for Lights of Love. The program was dedicated to Gail Cameron.

ALBANY, Ga. — Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Junior Woman’s Club of Albany celebrated the 30th “Lights of Love” ceremony Monday evening in the hospital’s main lobby.

“Lights of Love” is an annual tree lighting event that gives the community an opportunity to honor or remember loved ones touched by cancer while donating funds to support area cancer patients and their families.

The fundraising event is considered a major emphasis for the Junior Woman’s Club of Albany.

This year, coordinators say, more than $50,000 has been raised to date for the cause.

“This has been something the Junior Woman’s Club has been supporting through the years,” said Lights of Love Chair Casey Moore.

“(It is good to know) we are able to make a small difference considering what they (those suffering from cancer) are going through. If we can give back, that is ultimately what we are here to do.”

This year, “Lights of Love” was able to carry new meaning for the club, having recently lost a member to cancer.

“This year has been really special because of that,” Moore said. “We are able to carry on her memory.”

The program on Monday was dedicated to the memory of the late club member, Gail Cameron.

Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick was at the event, primarily to thank those who have have given to the effort of making things easier for the region’s cancer patients.

“We are blessed by the fact that we have resources and that you have shared your resources (to make a difference),” he said to the crowd in Phoebe’s lobby Monday.

Cancer survivor Dr. Bill Buntin, a retired anesthesiologist, was this year’s tree lighter. Also contributing to the program was Dr. Robert Krywicki, oncology service line medical director at Phoebe, who spoke on the importance of screening and early detection.

Steve Williams, minister of music at Byne Memorial Baptist Church, and William Collins, associate minister of Porterfield United Methodist Church, provided the musical entertainment.

Since its inception, officials say donations to “Lights of Love” have made a $1 million impact on the lives of cancer patients in the area. Some of the projects it has supported include a van to provide transportation for patients, and a meditation room — which is in the final stages of completion, Moore said.

This year’s donations to the event will benefit the Light House, a five-bedroom home across the street from Phoebe on Fourth Avenue that provides a place of rest for cancer patients traveling long distances for treatment. It is maintained by the Junior Woman’s Club.