Jill Stuckey places "Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor" signs in downtown Plains on Thursday afternoon August 20, 2015 in advance of the President's return to his hometown. Stuckey printed 500 of the signs after seeing one in a Mike Luckovich cartoon drawn just after Carter announced that he had cancer. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
Photo: Ben Gray
Photo: Ben Gray

Plains shows signs of affection for Carter

PLAINS — It was, in the words of one organizer, a “non-partisan, unopposed campaign.”

Barely two hours after former president Jimmy Carter discussed his cancer diagnosis in a press conference broadcast live around the world, the residents of his hometown decided to have their say.

About 10 people gathered in a home just off Main Street to fan out with 500 “campaign” signs. Their poignant, yet powerful message:

“JIMMY CARTER FOR CANCER SURVIVOR.”

The signs were meant to be up and visible by the time Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, arrived home in Plains. With Carter having disclosed he’d be undergoing radiation therapy after the press conference, folks here were hoping he’d get a boost from seeing their visible signs of support.

“If we can put a smile on his face, it’s worth it,” said Jill Stuckey, a close friend of the former first couple and a board member of the Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, which organized the sign campaign.

The idea was first hatched last Thursday when Stuckey and others got a look at that day’s cartoon by the AJC’s Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, Mike Luckovich. The cartoon, which Luckovich created just after Carter revealed Wednesday he’d been given a cancer diagnosis, features a couple pounding in a lawn sign bearing the slogan “Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor.”

The cartoon quickly made its way around social media and found its way to Plains. It set Stuckey and others to thinking. And then to scheming: Could they get signs made up quickly enough to surprise the Carters on their first trip home after he started treatment? And could they get enough volunteers to paper this town of about 700 residents in just a couple of hours (any earlier and the surprise might be spoiled)?

Could they ever. Read about it on myAJC.com.

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