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Memory Tree honors, remembers cancer fighters
by Bill Baldowski
December 18, 2013 09:26 AM | 1031 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
From left, Reita Gaston, commercial appraiser and captain of the Douglas County government Relay for Life team, and Cathy Duke, administrative assistant to the director of Douglas DOT, arrange ribbons on the memory tree they have placed in the Douglas County Courthouse.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal From left, Reita Gaston, commercial appraiser and captain of the Douglas County government Relay for Life team, and Cathy Duke, administrative assistant to the director of Douglas DOT, arrange ribbons on the memory tree they have placed in the Douglas County Courthouse.
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The Christmas trees adorning the inside of the Douglas County Courthouse signal the joys of the holiday season with bright lights, beautiful ornaments and tinsel.

However, there is one tree in the atrium area that has an extra special meaning this holiday season as it celebrates courage and determination in the fight for life cancer patients are making or now are at eternal rest from that battle.

Standing beside the elevator on the atrium floor of the courthouse is the Memory Tree, the brainchild of Reita Gaston, captain of the courthouse’s anti-cancer Relay for Life Team, and team co-captain Cathy Duke, administrative assistant to county transportation director Randy Hulsey.

The tree is decorated with cards attached to its branches. The cards, which are free and can be filled out by courthouse employees or visitors, hold the names of those who have been affected by cancer and are either undergoing treatment, have survived the disease or have succumbed to it.

“Most everyone knows someone who has had cancer, is fighting cancer now or has died from cancer,” Gaston said.

“The tree and the names inscribed on the cards represent the pledge each of those filling out the cards have taken to show their support of cancer research so that, one day, cancer will be a thing of the past.”

Duke said the response to the tree and its purpose has been strong and steady.

Since it was erected more than three weeks ago, it has already been filled with 25 cards.

Gaston plans to keep the tree up through Dec. 31 and would like to see it overflowing with cards by that time.

The tree has a personal meaning for Duke and Gaston as each has lost a loved one to cancer.

“My 38-year-old nephew is fighting stage four colon cancer now,” Duke said.

Although there is no charge for people to put the names of friends or loved ones on the tree, Gaston and Duke are offering keepsake Christmas ornament balls that can be purchased for $3 for home use as well as the DC Employee Cookbook which is on sale for $10.
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