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ACS memorial service honors victims, families and a volunteer
long family
American Cancer Society volunteer Sandra White presents a rose to the family of the late Jim Long at Sundays ACS memorial service. Long, a longtime coach at Effingham County High School, was diagnosed with cancer shortly before his passing earlier this year. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The American Cancer Society’s annual memorial ceremony paid homage to those who lost their fight against cancer, their families, and to someone who pushed to eradicate the disease.

Families of cancer victims and ACS representatives gathered Sunday afternoon at the Effingham County Board of Education auditorium, and families in attendance received a rose in honor of their loved one.

Connie Burns was not a cancer victim, but her work as an ACS volunteer was honored. Burns, who was an ACS ambassador for the 12th Congressional District, died suddenly in August. She often met with lobbyists and insurance companies to urge for screenings and coverage.

"She was there to fight for the rights of people," said Margaret Edwards. "I am sure she got her point across each and every time."

ACS memorial chairperson Susan Exley said Burns became an ACS volunteer to honor her father Robert and her late mother Margie.

Burns also was the county sanitation director, and, "If you asked Connie, she was ‘the queen of trash,’" Edwards said. "She loved that title."

Edwards recalled that at the funeral home visitation for Burns, a video in tribute to her was set to the new song, "Pontoon," and images on thevideo reflected Burns floating in a lake.

"She had fun in whatever she put her effort into," Edwards said.

Edwards added that the word devotion came up during church Sunday morning, and Burns embodied its meaning.

"No matter what it was, she put 110 percent into it," Edwards said.

One of the cancer victims honored was Robbie Moore, an Effingham County teen who lost a protracted battle with brain cancer in February. A number of events and fundraisers were held for Moore, an ardent NASCAR fan, during his fight with cancer.

"He reached a lot of hearts and a lot of souls," said Pat Kennedy, also a cancer survivor. "It still hurts. But he is in a much better place. I thank the family for what they have given to us. He was an amazing young man. I feel honored to have been his friend."

Said Exley: "He brought out the best in this community."

Exley is a cancer survivor, as are both her parents, and Sunday’s event was her 18th memorial service.

"It is our desire that one day we will no longer have to have this service," she said.