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Contestants ready themselves for the hot dog eating contest.

DANVILLE, Va. — On Saturday, community members came out to 2 Witches Winery and Brewing Company to enjoy live music, outdoor games, fun contests and more, all to support a great cause: the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association.

Many months of planning went into making the River City Throwdown Against Cancer a reality, after event coordinator Matt Doss reached out to Shawn Wesley about organizing a fun summer event to raise awareness and a monetary contribution for Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer. Both Doss and Wesley were interested in a project of this nature, having both witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of cancer on individuals and families.

“We’re both into [coordinating] events, and I’ve had a few friends and family members pass away from cancer, so we decided to try to give something back to help local people,” Wesley said.

“My niece went through cancer treatment two different times, the time she was 5 and the time that she was 9,” Doss said. “She’s 14 now, and she’s doing great. Children’s Miracle Network, or any kind of cancer association, like St. Jude’s—those are all really special things to me, so the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association has always had a special place in my heart because they did a lot of good stuff for her.”

Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer is a local nonprofit organization run by a board of directors that operates independently of larger cancer organizations like the American Cancer Society, so their focus is limited to helping only those individuals residing in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area, according to DPC Board Member Melissa Breaux.

“We're most appreciative, very appreciative, because what happens when someone puts together an event like this is all the funds stay local to assist people who are receiving treatments for cancer—those would be folks residing in the city of Danville or Pittsylvania County…we’re just happy that people take an interest and want to help,” Breaux said.

Longtime DPC Board Member Vic Ingram celebrated the efforts of individuals and community partners who work together to host events such as the River City Throwdown against Cancer, since the proceeds from ticket sales and donations go directly to benefitting local cancer patients.

“Any time a local group, organization or individual comes together and has an event to benefit cancer patients in this area it’s just a blessing,” Ingram said. “We’re a local organization that’s been around since 1947, and every penny that we raise or that’s donated, apart from our expenses, goes to the clients in this area. We have a minimal staff, and we’re just really proud that we’re able to help those suffering with cancer. It’s wonderful events like this that make that possible.”

The mission of DPC is to offer up to $500 per month to local cancer patients to help with cancer-related needs, from pharmaceutical costs and prosthesis to hair coverings and nutrient drinks.

“When people have cancer, they have enough to worry about,” Ingram said. “It's like the whole world has caved in on them. So our organization is to help lessen the financial burden that they have because of this horrible disease.”

Client Aid Coordinator Shirley Adkins and Board Member Carol Jones expressed their optimism about the event’s positive outcomes for DPC, especially that of spreading the word.

“It’s to bring awareness to cancer in general,” Adkins said. “And it will bring awareness of our organization as well.”

“With the association being a nonprofit, a lot of people might not be aware of its existence because we can’t advertise…so anytime an event like this takes place, it introduces people who, hopefully, might never need us, but if they ever do, they know of its availability for their health,” Jones said. “We weren’t able to have any fundraisers last year, so the more we have this year, the better off it’ll be for the organization.”

“We’re constantly trying to let people know that we’re there to help them, and everyday I run across somebody that’s suffering with cancer…so we’re still fighting the ongoing battle of making people aware that we’re there to help them and it doesn’t cost them anything,” Ingram said. “Another important thing is that we don't turn anybody away; whether you have tremendous assets or nothing, we're going to help. We don't turn anybody away.”

2 Witches Winery and Brewery Company Owner Julie Brown spoke about 2 Witches’ role as the venue for the event.

“We’re happy to support nonprofits and individuals in our community who are trying to support worthy causes, by allowing them to utilize our facility for the event,” Brown said. “Typically for things like this, we try and assist with best practices—we’ve been doing this for several years now—so just helping our nonprofit partners and others think through some elements of their event so they can be successful.”

Solo musicians and bands played live music on the stage of 2 Witches’ event space as community members and families enjoyed outdoor games, vendors and fun competitions—a mug-holding contest and hot dog eating contest with gift card prizes.

“They’re trying to bring some different things they haven't seen happen in the community, so they’re trying some different things to kind of add to the quality of life here,” Brown said. “We’re happy to support them…There’s not many people that haven’t been touched in some shape or form by cancer impacting somebody that they care about, so we’re happy to show our support.”

“We are so grateful for individuals like Matt Doss and those folks for putting this together,” Ingram said. “It’s a fun event, and in the midst of having a good time, you’re raising some money for people that really need help.”

Doss and Wesley are hoping to make the River City Throwdown Against Cancer an annual event.

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