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CUMBERLAND COUNTY COMMISSIONER ON MISSION TO RAISE FUNDS FOR ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

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Cumberland County Seventh District Commissioner Mark Baldwin is a man on a mission. He set out March 4 with a goal to raise $1,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

1057 News caught up with “Meteorologist Mark” this morning to discuss his fundraising goals for his upcoming half-marathon run April 27.

“This’ll be my sixth time running the St. Jude Rock & Roll Marathon in Nashville,” he said. But this is only the second time he’s conducted a fundraiser.

Baldwin’s initial goal was $1,000… and he’s blown right past that. As of this afternoon, he’s already raised $1,987.

Last year he had also set a $1,000 goal – and a Frito Bandito lunch fundraiser at work gave him a great boost. This time around, since his election to the Cumberland County Commission, Baldwin’s got a broader base, a wider circle of influence. That’s certainly helped his efforts.

“That’s the coolest part of it, being able to see the change from last year – having more of that name recognition,” he said. “And it’s for St. Jude! My goodness, I can’t think of many other that are as worthy of a donation as St. Jude.”

Asked what surprised him the most about the support he’s received, Baldwin had to give it some thought.

“Oh my goodness, I don’t know,” he said “I guess what has surprised me the most is how so many people recognize my name from being in office – how much of an impact I’ve been able to make for this fundraiser just because of that.”

When he kicked off his fundraising campaign this year, he raised $745 through the luncheon at work alone – and that, he said, doesn’t even count those folks who donated through the website because they didn’t have cash on them.

Baldwin emphasized every penny he raises actually goes to St. Jude. “In today’s world, when you give to a fundraiser,  you often don’t know how much of that money is given to that fundraiser,” he said. “One hundred percent of what you give is given to St. Jude. That’s something most charities or most fundraisers can’t claim.”

He said that through its research efforts alone, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has improved the overall childhood-cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the 1960s. And the childhood-leukemia rate has increased even more dramatically: from a five percent survival rate in the ’60s to up around 95 percent today.

Baldwin said he’s already lost several friends and relatives to cancer. “It’s something that’s got to be stopped as best we can stop it,” he said. He mentioned one friend who died of cancer at 31 – ten years younger than he is now – which gives him pause as to how much of life she missed out on.

And while he said his family hasn’t personally been touched by childhood cancer, the mission of St. Jude is one he said he really believes in and supports. “I want to know that if a child in the family ever does need St. Jude, it’d be really comforting to know they’re being taken care of,” he said.

Baldwin described the experience of raising money for St. Jude as “really cool.”

“I’ve been so blessed in my life and I feel like I need to give back as much as I possibly can,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”

Baldwin receives email alerts whenever someone donates – and it absolutely makes his day. He said he could be having a bad day and then an email arrives saying somebody just made a donation, and it changes his whole day. “We’re bombarded by all the bad news, the bad things people do – and it’s nice to see people have a place in their heart for the things that matter.”

Baldwin challenges everyone to give as much as they can, no matter what that amount may be. “If they can only give $5, that might buy the coffee for a family for that day – and that coffee might be all they can muster because they’re so stressed” over having a child fighting cancer, he said.

Baldwin’s fundraising campaign will continue until race day, April 27.

“They give and I run,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Because he’s raised $500 over his goal, Baldwin will be entered into a drawing for a trip to Memphis, which would include a tour of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital facilities.

If you’d like to contribute to Meteorologist Mark’s fundraising efforts on behalf of St. Jude, you may do so here.

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