Carter cancer signs inspire others, become hot item

PLAINS — First came the editorial cartoon.

Next came the yard signs inspired by the cartoon.

And now, just one day after they appeared as if by magic all over this tiny southwest Georgia town, those “JIMMY CARTER FOR CANCER SURVIVOR” campaign signs are in demand around the country and will be sold, with the profits donated to worthy causes.

“There’s been overwhelming worldwide interest and support expressed in this,” said Jill Stuckey, a close friend of the Carters. “What it’s a response to is not only the fact that President Carter has cancer, but also someone’s mother has cancer, or their sister or brother. This is inspiration on a large scale.”

It was just over a week ago that The Carter Center sent out a three-sentence statement disclosing the former president’s cancer diagnosis. Mike Luckovich, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saddened and inspired by the news quickly sketched out a cartoon featuring a couple pounding in a lawn sign of the sort favored by people running for office. On this sign, though, it read, “Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor.”

In Plains, the nonprofit Friends of The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site hatched the idea of making up 500 signs based on the cartoon’s slogan and placing them around town. They wanted them up by the time Carter arrived home following a radiation treatment in Atlanta. When the Carters’ motorcade arrived late Thursday, the “campaign” signs were visible everywhere and cheered their intended target so much he later phoned Stuckey, also a “Friends” board member, to tell her so.

By then, photos of the yard signs had started showing up on Facebook, CNN and numerous news sites. Soon, hundreds of calls and emails were coming in to people or groups in Plains from Canada, California, Italy and Idaho. Many were big fans of Carter or the frankness and humility with which he was confronting this illness. Others had personal experience with cancer or wanted to support someone who did, yet all the contacts pretty much posed a version of the same question: How can I get one of the signs? Or, in one case, 100 of them.

That prompted Stuckey to run another question by President Carter Friday morning: Would he be OK with them selling the signs, if the money went to a good cause? He agreed and proceeds are earmarked for the “Friends” organization and a cancer organization that’s still being finalized.

Plans call for the signs to sell for $25. As of Friday afternoon, about 50 of the original signs were available at the Plains Historic Inn on Main Street, but only to people who stop by to make their purchase. In the meantime, more copies are being printed and should be available online in a week to ten days at www.friendsofthejimmycarternationalhistoricsite.org.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.