Thumbs Up Mission held its 7th annual 'Dressed to Kill Cancer’ fashion experience Thursday at Lanier Technical College to support families in the community affected by cancer.
There were more than 350 people who gathered at the Ramsey Conference Center to hear from local cancer warriors who have battled, or are in battle with the disease.
Cancer survivors and fighters took the stage ‘dressed to kill’ and modeled fashion from local businesses. Models told their stories of hope and ways in which Thumbs Up has fortified their cancer journey through the mission's retreats, support and prayer.
The mission of Thumbs Up is to fortify families where a parent or child is fighting cancer. The focus is to battle fear by infusing hope, inspiring laughter, and instilling an eternal perspective in each family they serve.
Wesley Gailey, a Gainesville 5-year-old who recently battled Burkitt Lymphoma/Leukemia, and his mother, Lydia Gailey, were models at Thursday's event. The pair were also joined by Wesley's father, Jake Gailey.
“Thumbs Up and the Coker family have taken their pain and experience with their son Keaton and turned it into the most inspiring mission where families can spend a weekend together in the fight of their lives to make memories, be supported, and feel cared for," Jake Gailey said. "We feel so blessed to have gotten the chance to go to Great Wolf Lodge and see the ministry first hand."
Thumbs Up Mission Founders Miles and Sharon Coker are the parents of Keaton Coker, a Gainesville youth who lost his battle to brain cancer in 2014.
Keaton used his big smile and a thumbs up gesture when he was unable to speak to let everyone know he was alright, hence the name of the mission. Keaton's family was inspired to carry on the strength of their son to help support other families in their fights, Sharon Coker said.
"One of our favorite stories about Keaton epitomizes his journey through cancer," Coker said. "It was customary for his football team to end summer workouts with a difficult 5am run up Currahee Mountain. After finishing the run, Keaton stood tall, looked back down the mountain, and without hesitation, headed back down. Keaton had noticed that several of the younger lineman were struggling to reach the top. He endured more strenuous exercise to encourage and run alongside his teammates. Keaton didn’t do it for the attention. He did it because he understood his role in this life. Keaton’s purpose was to carry God’s light everywhere he went and allow that light to impact others. There is no doubt he fulfilled his purpose completely,” she said.