Valdosta Daily Times

April 18, 2013

Hahira Cancer Day continues without founder

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

HAHIRA — One of Eula Copeland’s wishes was that the annual Hahira Cancer Day would continue once she passed away.

This year, sadly, her wish comes true.

The Fourth Annual Hahira Cancer Day is scheduled for next week, continuing a tradition started in 2010. It continues just like Eula Copeland wanted, said Freeman S. Rivers Sr., an event organizer.

Eula Copeland passed away earlier this year. She passed away about a week short of her 83rd birthday.

She was born Jan. 25, 1930 to Owen and Mary Bryant of Hahira. She attended Lowndes County Schools. She married the Rev. Willie C. Lane Sr., who died after 25 years of marriage. She later married Lamar Copeland.

She spent her life in Hahira and helping people in the community.

Her obituary noted: “Eula’s greatest achievement was her unwavering loyalty and faith in God. Eula’s life was one of service to her community and fellow man. In addition to constantly assisting others in various capacities, she fed the homeless and needy for 17 years at Samantha’s Place in Hahira, Ga. She served on a broad spectrum of boards throughout Lowndes County. Throughout her life, she touched the lives of many. Her goal was to make a positive impact. Those who knew, loved, or just met her in passing, knew she was genuine. She possessed the exceptional ability to make a difference in the quality of life for each one. With nearly 100 close family members, she leaves each one with the feeling of being ‘The Special One.’”

“She was a God-fearing woman who put God first and led by example,” Rivers, a friend and fellow Hahira resident, said of Copeland. “There is a lot that can be said about her good works and deeds. She did it with a smile and didn’t mind. Our churches, blacks and whites, will miss her speaking, teachings, etc. Sis Copeland had a good word for you wherever she went.”

It was the passing of her great-grandson that led her to start Hahira Cancer Day.

 Troy Jackson was a 16-year-old Valdosta High School Wildcat when he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, Copeland once told The Times regarding her great-grandson.

“He fought the cancer,” she said. “He fought hard.”

Troy remained hopeful, too. While undergoing treatment, he sold candy bars and other items in his Atlanta hospital room to raise money for his football equipment.

Eula Copeland visited her great-grandson during his treatment. She saw how the Childhood Cancer Center helped her family and others. She witnessed how Lowndes County’s Partnership Cancer Fund helped her family supplement expenses for travel and other non-insured costs associated with fighting cancer.

“I saw the need of so many children and newborn babies fighting cancer,” Copeland said. “I thought I got to get back home and do something.”

At the age of 17, Troy Jackson died, but Eula Copeland did not forget her desire to help others.

In 2010, at the age of 80, she sponsored the first Hahira Cancer Day. Through the sale of barbecue dinners, the event raised thousands of dollars. It also served as a center for family who have survived or lost a loved one to cancer to share experiences and memories.

She also held the event in 2011 and 2012, saying each time she discussed it with the newspaper that she wanted to ensure the Hahira Cancer Day had become a tradition before she passed so it would continue.

The tradition continues next weekend with the Fourth Annual Hahira Cancer Day scheduled for 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, Downtown Hahira. Participants are invited to bring photos of family and friends affected by cancer. Booths are still available for $25. Benefit barbecue dinners may be purchased: rib dinners, $10; pull-pork dinners, $9; chicken dinners, $9. In the past, proceeds have gone to the Childhood Cancer Center and the local Partnership Cancer Fund.

More information: Call Freeman Rivers, (229) 794-3508; Crystal Jackson, (229) 241-9905; Gloria Miller, (229) 794-3774; Shayla London, (850) 443-9609; April Turner, (229) 333-9615.