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After brush with death, Project Lifesaver organizer renews effort
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Set up outside the Kroger in Rincon, Pauline Morgan sells a ticket to Ricky Coleman for this coming Saturdays raffle to benefit Effingham Countys Project Lifesaver program. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

After surviving her own brush with death earlier this year, Pauline Morgan said she is more committed than ever to her annual fundraiser for Project Lifesaver.

“God has blessed me, by letting me be here — and to do this,” Morgan said.

This year’s benefit will be a raffle and lunch Saturday at Farmers Furniture in Rincon, starting at 11 a.m. The top prize will be a 50-inch Toshiba flat-screen television.

Raffle tickets cost $3 apiece or two for $5, with all proceeds going to Effingham County’s Project Lifesaver program. Coordinated through the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Project Lifesaver provides a state-of-the-art electronic tracking system to locate adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome or dementia.

The program provides personalized wristbands that emit a tracking signal. If someone with a wristband goes missing, caregivers can call 911 to alert a trained emergency team to respond.

Project Lifesaver bracelets cost $300 each and are not covered by insurance, according to Morgan.

“I want to be able to, if somebody in Effingham County needs a bracelet, money isn’t a problem,” she said. “When you mention paying $300 to an elderly couple or elderly person, (they often say) ‘I’m not wasting my money.’ Little do they realize how important these monitors are. I want to make it to where they don’t have to worry about that.”

This is the third year in a row Morgan has organized a Project Lifesaver fundraiser, and she’s just thankful to be around for it. She spent seven weeks in the hospital after what she describes as “the worst case of an asthma attack that you can have.”

“By the time they flew me from Effingham to St. Joseph’s (Hospital),” Morgan said, “Dr. (Ryan) Moody told me, ‘You were everything but dead.’”

Following her hospital stay and exhaustive therapy — “I had to learn how to walk again,” she said — Morgan was more determined than ever to help Project Lifesaver.

Her first fundraiser, a raffle in 2011, brought in $3,157, and last year’s silent auction, yard sale and bake sale raised $3,524. For this year’s, she decided on a raffle and barbecue lunch — and has been amazed by the response.

Local businesses have donated more than $8,500 worth of items for the raffle, Morgan said. She needed more raffle tickets printed after selling all of her initial batch of 2,000.

“I don’t know what to say, the people are just awesome,” Morgan said. “It overwhelms me, it really does.”

Morgan’s inspiration to get involved with Project Lifesaver was her father, an Alzheimer’s patient who sometimes wandered from home. He died at age 79 in 2011, just two days after Morgan received permission from the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office to hold her first fundraiser.

“I got approved on the raffle on March the 16th of 2011, and he died on March the 18th,” she said. “After he died, it just pushed me to want to help more. And I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”

Seventeen people in Effingham County currently are using Project Lifesaver bracelets provided by the ECSO. The sheriff’s office has a waiting list for them, Morgan said.

“There definitely is a need for them,” she said. “If we had more on hand, we would have more out.”

Saturday’s event will begin at 11 a.m., giving people one last hour to buy tickets before the raffle begins around noon. Also, barbecue sandwich plates will be sold for $6 and hot dog plates for $2.

To buy tickets or for more information, call Morgan at 433-5252.

For more information about Project Lifesaver, call the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office at 754-3449.