RV park residents show that a small community can make a big difference

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BRADENTON, Fla. - Do you ever wish when you see terrible things happening around you that you could do something to change them? That's the way a group of senior citizens felt in a Bradenton mobile home park. And wait until you hear what they accomplished.

Several hundred seniors live at the Horseshoe Cove RV Park in Bradenton. Although they've arrived there late in their lives, they've formed strong bonds and close friendships. But as more and more of their friends and relatives developed cancer, they decided to go on the warpath -- and they have worked wonders.

Linda and Alan Hager are signing folks up for a mini-Relay For Life at the mobile home park to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after they moved there. "I had to have surgery, chemo and radiation; just like everybody else, you think that was the end and was scared to death."

But she survived. And to show their gratitude, she and Alan launched a fight against the dreaded disease. "We decided to do a little mini relay, and we had a goal of $500 and hat year we raised $10,000…it was pretty amazing."

So now they are once again preparing luminaries for this year's mini relay. "This is our fifth one. This time we're over $33,000 today, and that puts us over $100,000 for the for the 5 relays."

The seniors raised the money by washing golf carts, giving dinners, and making bracelets to sell. People also pay $5 each for luminary bags that will hold candles to honor loved ones who've faced cancer.

Fancis Davis, recently out of the hospital from cancer surgery, is the top fund raiser. "I’ll just sit in front of my computer, and in my email contact list I just send out emails. So all my friends and family, and was amazed that the checks rolled in." She raised $1,100.

The relayers, ranging in age from 55 to 92 years old, will walk around the park led by survivors who have this message for those still fighting. "Don't give up; I didn't give up. The oncologist calls me a miracle every time I see her. But just wouldn’t give up, I just kept on fighting," says Davis.

Alan Hager recently shaved his head to celebrate his wife's 10 years as a cancer survivor. And he hopes the success of the Horseshoe Cove mini-relay will inspire others to join the fight. "It would be wonderful if every park, RV resort, not only in Florida but across the country, got together and did a relay similar to this. Can you imagine how much money would be raised to fight cancer."

The residents at Horseshoe Cove say never let anyone tell you you're too old to make a difference. They are living proof that you can.