The Heroes Project 2014

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It all started with a song.

When the Heroes Project kicked off five years ago, we hoped it would thrive as a way to raise money for Relay for Life and cancer research. With the release of “All Are Our Heroes,” Publisher David Greer and other local artists and musicians sought to strike a resounding chord for those affected by the disease.

As part of the project, Gwinnett Magazine asked survivors to share their stories inside the publication”s pages in an effort to spread hope.

The end result was something so much more powerful than we could have imagined. The words of these local Heroes were a glimpse into the very fabric of life itself.

In the following pages you”ll see courage personified by a little girl, a little boy, a grown man or woman. Regardless of age, each person has a unique outlook to share. Their gift to all of us is one of perspective.

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The lives of these Heroes were changed in a split second. As they sat in the doctor”s office on a day forever stamped in their memories and learned they had cancer, they thought about the people they loved. They thought about what mattered.

And in that moment, these Gwinnett County residents made a declaration that set them apart. With a resolve that would inspire those around them, these individuals found an inner strength

Today, these stories continue to inspire, and we hope to keep raising money in the battle against cancer.

Get acquainted with your local Heroes.

“Breast cancer does not discriminate” – Keisha Hull
You could hear a pin drop in the exam room when the doctor told her the devastating news. Out of confusion and disbelief, she stared blankly, letting the words take root in her mind: Breast Cancer. She turned to her husband, asking him if he”d heard what the doctor had said.
Read her story.


“Have a good attitude and a positive approach” – Anthony Rodriguez
You never know what tomorrow holds. That”s more than a maxim for Anthony Rodriguez. Savoring each fleeting moment is a way of life for the 50-year-old producing artistic director at Aurora Theatre. It”s a habit that took root more than 23 years ago when doctors told him about the malignant sarcoma in his leg.
Read his story.


“Don”t wait for tomorrow. Love big.” – Anna Mott
She moved with grace across the stage. Every move, every breath seemingly an effortless display of her love of life.As so many of us do, Anna Mott funneled all her energy into her passion, losing herself in the quiet momentum, her talent on display for those who saw her dance.
Read her story.


“Be happy today” – Reece McPhail
A father wants the world for his child. From the moment he holds him in his arms in the hospital room, their eyes meeting for the very first time, there”s an unspoken blood pledge. He will do anything to protect his offspring.
Read his story.


“You are your own best advocate” – Susan Lee
Susan Lee could feel the world shifting around her as she heard the news. The doctor delivered it professionally, in a delicate manner, but nothing could have prepared her for the words: “It”s cancer.”
Read her story.


“Every day is a gift” – David Greer
David Greer knows the toll cancer can take on the family. He”s seen it from all perspectives. As a prostate cancer survivor, he battled the disease. As a son who watched lung cancer take his own mother, he vowed to encourage those around him to be vigilant, to get screened.
Read his story.


“You have to hold your head high”  – McKenzie Casal
When cancer rears its head, friends and family of the person diagnosed huddle around their loved one in a show of support. In these moments, many realize it”s that very person who sets the tone for their battle with the disease. The strength of their character emboldens those around them to also be strong.
Read her story.


“People are put in your life for a reason”  – Carmen Vargas
What 23-year-old Carmen Vargas lost was flesh and blood. For what she gained, the local woman considers it a bargain. After surgery to remove her breast cancer, Vargas said she was imparted “so much wisdom and knowledge.”
Read her story.


“I got my second chance at life” – Marina Sampanes Peed
What if the one person who could save your life was a stranger? As she sought a match for a much-needed blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant, Marina Sampanes Peed learned that not even her immediate family could help her.
Read her story.


“Life is too short, and you have to cherish every moment” – Carrie Cave
Breast cancer has taken its toll on the family of Carrie Cave. Her mother, sister, and aunt were all diagnosed. And several years back, she herself got some troubling news.
Read her story.


“Take advantage of every moment.” – Dan Martin
Looking back through the years, Dan Martin remembers a lot of the advice his pop used to give him. Much of what he learned extended to all things in life. But one thing in particular sticks out. “My dad used to say to me, “you just keep on keeping on. You don”t quit. You just keep going.””
Read his story.


“It”s taught me to be healthier and stress less” – Jenny Shaw
Always go with your gut feeling. Jenny Shaw of Buford has always held strong to this belief. Even when facing a frightening diagnosis of ulcerated melanoma, the 37-year-old Buford woman embraced her convictions, knowing that deep in her heart she would do what was best for her children and for herself.
Read her story.


“I don”t let little things bother me” – Susie Moe
Friends of Susie Moe describe her as a positive influence in their lives whose refusal to bow down in the face of cancer is a continual inspiration. That strong personality trait was put to the test nine years ago as she faced a shocking diagnosis of stage one ovarian cancer. What started out as a stomach ache led to the discover and subsequent surgery and chemotherapy. “I was shocked and scared at first,” she said. “More than anything else, it was a shock for my family.”
Read her story.


We Light a Candle was written to capture the emotion felt by cancer patients and their loved ones and to help sustain cancer awareness. It is the second song produced by The Heroes Project.

“We Light A Candle” – Original Version

“We Light A Candle” – Acoustic Version, featuring Andy Velo

With the help of local artists and musicians, including rising country star Rachel Farley, who co-wrote the song, and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Shawn Mullins, All Are Our Heroeswas produced as a fundraising tool for area volunteer teams.

All Are Our Heroes – Rachel Farley Version

All Are Our Heroes – Background Track

All Are Our Heroes – Lee Davis Instrumental


Heroes 2010 Relay Meeting

Heroes Electronic Press Kit

We Light a Candle

Carlye”s Story

Jarod”s Story

Alaina”s Story

Pastor BJ”s Story

Ron”s Story

Mary”s Story

Saima”s Story

Todd”s Story

Lynne”s Story

Elekta”s Story

Allen Richardson

Nichelle Coltrain

Kyle Cruce

Jane Maran

Jim Markum

Mai Nguyun

Robin Carraway

Ryan Loggins

Sandra Lawrence

Sharon Franklin

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