Freezin’ for good reasons

Published 1:33 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A skier braves waters of Lake Jackson, which were a brisk 65 degrees Saturday.

For the second year in a row, Florala’s Cancer Freeze event has broken its fundraising record.

Organizer Caleb Davidson said Saturday’s event, which benefited three recipients, raised nearly $40,000 – exceeding last year’s total by $10,000.

“And we’re still getting money in,” Davidson said. “It’s just mind-blowing.”

Cancer Freeze is an annual fundraising event held each February to benefit a person from South Alabama or Northwest Florida who is battling cancer. Participants donate a minimum of $20 to water-ski, wakeboard, kneeboard or tube in the frigid waters of Lake Jackson. This year’s beneficiaries were Kaleb Jones, the toddler son of Florala High School football coach Justin Jones and his wife, Joni; Dee Ladd, a 50-year-old from the Harmony Community, and Megan Landreth, a 25-year-old Walton County, Fla., pediatric nurse.

Support and participating for the fundraiser that helps three area families battling cancer exceeded expectations – prompting Davidson and his family to expand the single day event into a yearlong fundraiser, he said Monday.

“Our three recipients will receive a large portion of what we raised Saturday,” he said. “But we raised enough to keep some back and use it to help others throughout the year. When we first started, we picked one person to benefit. Then, we got to a place where we couldn’t give all the money to one person.

“Now, we’re at a place where we can’t give all the money to three,” he said. “The only explanation I have is that God is right in the middle of it. For $35,000 to walk in the door that day, in the middle of this economy, is amazing.”

People across the state, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida traveled to participate in the day’s events, which included a 5K (for results see Page 8), a poker run, bass tournament and auctions. One big hit was the Tri-Cities Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast, he said.

“And we’re going to keep it all on the schedule for next year,” Davidson said. “Cancer Freeze will always be on the first Saturday in February, but we’ve crammed all we can into that one day. We’re going to do different things throughout the year so that we can help families dealing with cancer.”

Davidson credited a strong community for the day’s success. The majority of donations came from Covington County residents, he said.

“People are always so willing to help,” he said. “We can not do what we do without the volunteers we have. Thank you so much.”