The Duncan Banner

Local News

February 18, 2013

Photographer’s story inspires community

Video shared about terminal cancer spurs Collier to host fundraiser for Abigail Smith

DUNCAN — Many Duncan people rallied together for a special fundraiser for a local woman battling cancer and through their efforts they raised $14,500 Saturday.

The Family Life Center of Duncan’s First Baptist Church was nearly overflowing with donations to the fundraiser planned for local photographer Abigail Smith.

Put on by the efforts of Morgan Collier, a member of the church, the goal was to raise $10,000 to assist Smith pay for medical bills and expenses associated with her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

“In my head, I wanted $10,000,” she said. “I thought that it was a big goal but that is what I had in my head. I really hope that we make that,” she shared Saturday before the day was over.

Abigail Smith’s story went viral online throughout Stephens County in January, with a video in which she told her story. Smith’s story really began a year ago when she was first diagnosed with cancer. She blogged about her experiences, her faith and the support she received. After surgery and treatments, many people thought she was cancer free. But in December 2012, Smith posted on her Facebook pages that it had returned. Videos of her story traveled Facebook and reached out to Morgan Collier, who had never even met Abigail Smith before the fundraiser.

“I just saw her video they made on Facebook,” she said.

“I had a lot of mutual friends that posted it. I just thought ‘Oh, I’ll watch it.’ I watched it and she just blew me away with her story and her faith. I wanted to try to help her.”

Kaylee Price and Bobbie Foster both attended Saturday’s sale shopping to support a woman they had never met.

Price said she too had seen Smith’s video on Facebook but had never met her.

“A lot of my friends had pictures done by her,” Price said. “I might even have her on my Facebook.”

When Price saw Smith’s story on Facebook, she was moved and came out, like many others, to support this woman, an iconic figure, in the Duncan community.

The fundraising event included a bake sale, a garage sale and a silent auction. The bake sale and the garage sale ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday while the silent auction ended at 3 p.m.

“It’s been great,” Collier said Saturday.

“We had a great turnout of stuff. The community is awesome. It is kind of hard to tell by the amount of stuff that is left but we have sold a lot of stuff.”

Collier began picking up items throughout the week, and on Friday afternoon, opened the doors at the church, which is one of the largest, oldest churches in the community. The line of cars and people bringing in items was steady and long. Collier appeared amazed by the turnout.

In addition to the silent auction items were professional photography sessions that had been donated by Smith’s fellow photographers and friends. Collier said many of the area’s photographers had come together to support Smith during this difficult time and donated photo sessions to raise money for her.

“Duncan is awesome,” she said. “We are a not a tiny city but people just care for each other. Everyone loves Abigail and her family. Everybody just adores them. This is all because of them.”

Collier said she had done garage sales and other fundraising events before but nothing of this magnitude. In addition to everybody who came out and donated or shopped, Collier also expressed gratitude to Cherry Berry, who brought their new mobile shop to the event and donated profits to the cause.

“Thanks to everybody that made this happen,” Collier said. “God is good. CherryBerry is awesome. One hundred percent of what he’s doing is going to Abigail.”

Duncan and Lawton Cherry Berry Store Owner Jack Barnes said the Smith family became a family to him since he has been away from his own.

“I have just gotten to know them and they have been like an adopted family to me,” Barnes said. “I really wanted to debut our mobile unit and I wanted to do it here first. We are donating 100 percent of whatever comes in. We just wanted to be a blessing to them.”

Barnes said this is the first time the mobile unit has been used and the store will be using it for fundraising events, catering and outdoor events.

For the items that were leftover from the sale, Collier said they would be donated to other places such as the Toy Shop, the High School or other organizations that would use the items for charitable purposes.

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