TIFTON -- The annual Blue Ribbon Campaign and the "No Excuse for Abuse Run" planned for this month by the Tift County Council on Child Abuse (CAC) will raise money for the organization to continue to make the public aware of the problems of child abuse and neglect and the need for prevention.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign began in 1989 in Norfolk, Va., when Bonnie Finney, a grandmother, took a stand against child abuse when she tied a symbolic blue ribbon to her van. Finney's grandson died as a result of child abuse. Her action prompted a community-based effort to prevent and stop child abuse nationwide.

Local CAC members are hopeful that more people will become involved with the agency.

"I feel like it takes us all, not just the CAC," said Beth Lewis, CAC vice president. "We have a very strong council, but we just need some more people with some ideas."

The CAC meets at noon every third Tuesday of the month in the office of the Tift County Commission on Children and Youth at 418 N. Ridge Ave. Lewis said anyone in the community is invited to attend. Members don't have to have any experience or formal education in matters of child abuse and neglect.

Cathy Rogers, a CAC member and an Abraham Baldwin College faculty member, is also the advisor of the Circle K Club, a college student branch of Kiwanis.

Rogers said Circle K members have adopted CAC projects into their service.

"They deliver the blue ribbons and work with the Flamingo Flocking," Rogers said. "They also help with the Bark in the Park. Hopefully, the partnership will be longstanding."

Any business or individual may purchase a blue ribbon for $20 from any CAC member or by calling Lillie McIntyre at 388-1000. Rogers can be reached at 386-3098 or by e-mail at crogers@abac.edu.

The "ABAC 5K Run/1K Walk" is scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 13 and will begin at Gressette Gym on the ABAC campus. Age divisions include 15 and under, 15-18, 19-25, 25-35, 35 and over in both the run and the walk. Medals for first, second and third-place winners from each age group will be awarded for the 5K run.

Individuals may enter for $5. Clubs and teams may register for $25. Participants may register at Gressette Gym the day of the race. Food and music will be provided before the award ceremony. Participants will also receive a free T-shirt. Fundraisers support CAC projects for next year.

The CAC also sponsors the "It's Okay to Tell" puppet show performed for third graders in local schools by the ABAC SGAE club members and the "Red Flag/Green Flag" program presented to second graders. CAC also sponsors a teen parenting class and plans are being made to develop a community lending library full of child abuse prevention and awareness videos. CAC is a United Way agency.

Sixty-three children died in Georgia in 2003 as a result of confirmed abuse and neglect. Another 47 deaths occurred from suspected abuse and neglect. In Tift County, 548 people reported their reason to believe a child was being abused. In the four-county judicial circuit, 1,385 such calls were made last year.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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