Nov. 29, 2017 – In 2005, a group of women in south Arkansas banded together to form Ashley County Cares, an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer through research and education.

Thirteen years later, their commitment and fundraising efforts continue to grow and benefit women across the state. Representatives of the group traveled to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to present their most recent donation — $30,000 to be used for breast cancer research and statewide outreach and education efforts.

Ashley County Cares President Donna Shields presented the donation to UAMS Cancer Institute Director Peter Emanuel, M.D. This year’s donation brings the group’s 13-year total to $388,000 for the breast cancer program at UAMS.

In recognition of their commitment, the group also was honored Nov. 17 by the UAMS Translational Research Institute as a nominee for the Chancellor’s Community Research Partner Award recognizing outstanding community-based organizations that participate in health research.

“The impact that Ashley County Cares has both in their community and across the state is a powerful example how a small group can make a big impact. Their shared mission to positively impact the health of women in Arkansas is inspirational, and we are proud to accept this generous donation,” said Emanuel, professor in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Joining them from UAMS were Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D., professor and chief of Breast Oncology, and Michael Preston, Ph.D., assistant professor and co-director for Health Initiatives and Disparities Research, both in the College of Medicine Department of Surgery.

“The people of Ashley County make this donation possible, and we are honored to present it to the UAMS Cancer Institute for their continued work in the fight against breast cancer,” Shields said.

Accompanying Shields were her fellow Ashley County Cares members Bernice Nelms, Kay Hartshorn, Bettye Berryman and Inez Barnes.

The group’s donation was raised through their annual events, including two T-shirt sales, a dinner and auction, and the Armadillo Festival 5K run/1K walk.