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Pilot Club raises money and awareness

Members of the Nansemond River Pilot Club met at Suffolk Presbyterian Church on April 9 for their Community Awareness Night, during which they presented money that they’ve fundraised for charitable, educational and research program locally.

The four programs that received donations were Project Lifesaver, Nobody Fights Alone, Relay for Life of Suffolk and Camp Bruce McCoy.

Project Lifesaver outfits program participants with transponders that emit a signal that can be picked up by special devices stored at each Suffolk fire station. Most participants are children with a condition like autism or adults who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

When a call is received that a program participant is lost, rescue personnel can take their search devices to the location where the person was last seen and are usually able to find and rescue them quickly.

“It’s a very valuable tool,” said Suffolk Fire & Rescue Lt. Mason Copeland. “The quicker you can bring them home, the better the chance for survival, especially in January when the temperature is in the low teens or single digits at night, or in the middle of July or August when it’s 100 degrees.”

Copeland said that the program has been in the city since 2000, growing from about a dozen participants to 75 individuals that are currently registered.

“This program only works because of folks like you,” he told Pilot Club members at the meeting. “I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate it.”

Camp Bruce McCoy is an annual summer camp for adults that have suffered a brain injury. The camp is hosted by the Brain Injury Association of Virginia at Triple R Ranch in Chesapeake and offers horseback riding, archery, riflery, fishing, canoeing, swimming and more.

“We have brain injury survivors walking 50 feet up in the air on a high ropes course,” said Kyle Sloan, who accepted the donation on behalf of Camp Bruce McCoy. “We have brain injury survivors going down the Northwest River in a canoe, and the joy that you see on these people’s faces is beyond rewarding.”

Survivors at the camp are given opportunities to do things that may not be possible for them in their daily lives because of their brain injuries.

“With your donation,” Sloan told the Pilot Club members, “you are making one person’s life a little bit happier and little bit more possible for them to do things that they enjoy.”

The Sentara Obici Hospital Auxiliary’s Nobody Fights Alone program is also committed to making things possible for people in need.

The program is funded entirely through donations and helps local cancer patients and their families pay for transportation to and from their treatments and medical appointments. Meals are also provided to the families, as well as limited utilities support.

“Nobody Fights Alone is really funded — wholly — by the members of our community, and it really does help our community,” said Jaclyn Bunte, who accepted the donation.

Dana DeFreeuw and Kathy Carraway accepted the Pilot Club’s contribution to Relay for Life of Suffolk, one of the Relay events held nationwide and around the world for the American Cancer Society. The theme for this year’s Relay is “Passport for a Cure — Relay around the World.”