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Tagging and taking names

Posted: September 5, 2008 10:05 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Tim Gibbs, of Sacramento, signs his name Friday on the window of an American Cancer Society bus that stopped in Valencia on a countrywide tour gathering signatures in support of cancer-related legislation.

Cheryl Lautman signed her name on a bus with Pennsylvania plates Friday afternoon, and she did it for her mother-in-law.

"In awe of your courage and strength battling cancer," Lautman wrote on the American Cancer Society's bus, which rolled into Santa Clarita scribbled with signatures and stories from people all across the country.

The Canyon Country resident added her name in honor of Wilhelmina, who has survived multiple bouts of cancer, she said.

"It went from breast cancer to bone cancer and she's still surviving," she said. "The more public support there is, the more public outcry for programs, the better it is for the community."

The Fight Back Express bus, parked in front of the Hyatt Valencia, gave the public a chance to share stories and ask federal lawmakers to push for legislation benefitting cancer patients.

The bus is covered with shrink wrap, which volunteers will remove and plaster onto large display boards.

The organization collected 30,000 to 50,000 signatures since the drive started in Ohio in early May.

The bus will pull into Washington, D.C. in November when volunteers will present members of Congress with the signatures.

"Scientific discovery alone will not defeat cancer," said Eric Beikmann, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society. "The federal government is by far the largest source of cancer research funding but years of budget freezes and cuts are impeding progress."

He hopes the bus can help change that.

"Through the bus tour, (the American Cancer Society) is working to make cancer a higher national priority by educating the public, lawmakers, candidates and the media about the importance of the government's role in defeating cancer," he said.

The bus is headed to downtown Los Angeles today.


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