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Gainesville boy to help raise $1M for cancer research at Care-A-Thon
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What: Children’s Health Care of Atlanta Care-A-Thon
When: Thursday and Friday
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A Gainesville boy will be participating in Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s annual Care-A-Thon to raise over $1 million for cancer research.

Tyler Wages, 12, is a patient of the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s and has rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer that can attack any part of the body.

“His happens to be in his cheek,” his mother Christine Wages said. “He was diagnosed with a tumor right at Christmastime. Since then, (Aflac Cancer Center) has reached out to us on a couple different occasions.”

For the past seven months, Tyler has received treatment at the center. Now, his mother said the family is more used to the unexpected lifestyle changes that come with his condition.

“If you were to talk to me three months ago, it would be a different story,” she said. “This is part of our life now — it’s our new normal — you kind of just have to deal with it. You leave town and you’ve got 20 types of medicines you’ve got take with you. That’s just part of our life.”

Since his diagnosis, Tyler has participated in several events with Children’s to raise awareness of childhood cancer, including the Care-A-Thon. The fundraiser, taking place Thursday and Friday, will be hosted by 95.5 FM and AM 750 News/Talk WSB radio stations.

“It started kind of as a grass-roots effort that has really grown into something remarkable in the Atlanta community,” Sara Wagoner, development officer for the center, said of the fundraiser. “The Care-A-Thon really brings attention to not only the cancer center, but also the wonderful treatment facility that we have here and the wonderful patients.”

The Care-A-Thon, in its 14th year, broadcasts from a makeshift radio station in the Aflac Center at Scottish Rite where patients come for interviews, she said.

Tyler is scheduled for his interview at 1:40 p.m. Friday.

“It’s about bringing attention to childhood cancer,” Tyler’s mom said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of them that you don’t know where they come from. You don’t know what the source is and so this will bring funding for research to help come up with a cure that doesn’t beat the kids up so much during the treatment.”

There will be 50 to 60 volunteers at WSB taking pledge calls from donors. For those who donate, there are incentives, Wagoner said.

“If a caller calls and donates, say $15,000, they can take part in an event we’re having with (Atlanta Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan called ‘Dinner for Two with No. 2.’”

Over the past years, the Care-A-Thon has raised nearly $13 million not only for research, but for providing fellowship and a family support team, Wagoner said.

Wages said she appreciates the opportunity to be a part of it all.

“The organizations we’ve been touched by have been just so overwhelming, and nobody has ever made us not feel welcome,” she said. “It’s good to see him getting better and getting active, and it has to do with all the care we’ve received at the clinic and hospital.”

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