TIFTON -- With the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life right around the corner, employees at the Affinity Health Group are gearing up for their first community fund-raiser.

The Affinity Foundation, which distributes money to area nonprofit agencies, will host the B.B. Secrist and the Rockin' 88 concert Saturday night at the Tift Theatre. Secrist first brought his act, based on the act of rock-and-roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, to Tifton during December's Hometown Holidays celebration. Tickets for the event are $20 each and may be purchased by calling 391-4509. The show is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Since its creation three years ago, the Affinity Foundation has raised more than $100,000. Of that figure, more than $90,000 has been distributed throughout the community to help various causes. The rest is still in the Foundation.

"Affinity Foundation is a great way to help employees become involved in the community," said Karen Kramer, Director of Public Relations at Affinity. "Their contributions allow us to give more money back to the community and help as many agencies as possible. The Foundation also increases participation because the funds can be automatically deducted from employees' paychecks, which is a lot easier than setting money aside or writing a check to support fundraising activities. It provides a great way for people to do something positive and make a difference.

"In 1999, Tift County was among the top 10 nationwide per capita for money raised. Our goal is to increase our revenue and get back into the top 10. We should be able to do that this year."

Aside from the American Cancer Society, some of the charities that benefit from the foundation are the American Lung Association, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the United Way, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence, the YMCA and the Tiftarea Pregnancy Care Center. Employees and physicians at Affinity, as well as the general public, can donate tax-deductible contributions to causes in the Tiftarea.

"For 40 years, the mission of our medical group has been service to our patients, their families and the community," said Dr. William Guest, President of Affinity Health Group. "Affinity Foundation is another method through which the physicians and staff continue this mission."

This year, from the Foundation alone, Affinity employees have designated more than $10,000 for Relay for Life 2004. Since the Foundation was formed, Affinity has been able to double the amount of money raised for the Relay -- just through employee contributions. Last year, Affinity's Office Relay Team raised more than $21,000 for the Relay, and this year, the team will exceed $25,000.



To contact reporter Lisa A. Lewis, call 382-4321, ext. 207.

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