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Cancer survivor gives back

September 19, 2012 - Sometimes karma can be a wonderful thing.

For 10 years Oxford's John Forte has donated his time and his services as a caterer to help with the American Cancer Society's annual Cattle Baron's Ball held in Detroit.

So, 16 months ago when Forte was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he knew where to go for the information he needed to make decisions to rid his body of the disease.

Forte said his awareness of cancer and the Cancer Society's emphasis on being tested regularly saved his life.

"I feel the early detection saved my life," he said. "I went from being involved with them to using them for information that I needed to see my choices for treatment and lay out my options."

After undergoing treatment, Forte said he is cancer free and proudly proclaims himself as a survivor.

Forte's involvement with the Cattle Baron's Ball goes back to when the event first came to Detroit, in 2003. It is a western-themed that is one of the most distinctive charitable events in metro Detroit having raised more than $9 million since 2003.

Those attending the ball are dressed in everything from denim to diamonds and enjoy the cowboy-themed evening while also raising money.

Forte's catering business, Forte-Belanger Catering located in Troy, will be a part of it again when it will be held on Sept. 29 at Joe Louis Arena. He serves on the organization's executive committee also.

The event is modeled after the original Cattle Baron's Ball held in Texas. It was brought to Michigan by former General Motors vice president Gary Cowger who wanted to use it to entice corporate involvement in charitable causes.

Since its beginnings in Detroit, executives from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have led the efforts that bring together the area's most respected corporate and civic leaders.

Honorary chairman James D. Farley Jr., Ford's vice president for Global Marketing, Sales and Service, will lead the charge this year.

"This fun and meaningful event offers a wonderful opportunity to raise money for a top nationwide health concern – cancer – and makes a difference to those in metro Detroit fighting against this disease."

Jill Elder, vice president of the American Cancer Society, said the $9 million raised in the past nine years is a tremendous accomplishment. Forte said the group's goal this year is to raise $1.2 million.

"This would not be possible without the amazing support of metro Detroit businesses and individuals that give of their time, money and talents each year. Together we make an important impact on cancer, enabling us to continue funding services, information and support for the more than 65 people per day that are diagnosed with cancer here in metro Detroit."

Forte, who has lived in Oxford for 35 years, values his work with the American Cancer Society more than ever.

"They are a group who are there to help and make a difference and they made a difference for me."

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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