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Cancer Society honors Pepsi of Decatur

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Ronnie Dukes has no idea how many thousands of gallons of Pepsi-Cola products he's given away in the past 22 years, and that bodes well for area nonprofits.

"I don't want to know," he joked. "If I looked at it real hard, I might, uh, I don't know."

The marketing director of Pepsi Bottling Co. of Decatur stopped himself before he could utter the unthinkable: not being a fixture at fundraising events like the American Cancer Society's golf tournament, held Monday.

The organization named this year's tournament in honor of Pepsi for its more than 20
years of supplying free Pepsi products to the event as
well as 14 years to Relay for
Life and its individual relay teams.

"Whether it's 2-liter bottles or cans, whatever we need, he gives it," said Beth Tutwiler, Cancer Society spokeswoman.

It's good business, Dukes said, because it supports the community and makes Pepsi an integral part of the community.

"Hopefully, people will support us when they go to supermarkets and grocery stores," he said, adding that he hopes it inspires other businesses to follow suit.

Nearly every nonprofit organization in Morgan, Limestone, Lawrence and Cullman counties that asks gets some type of help from Pepsi.

This includes United Way and most of its agencies, Parents and Children Together, The Volunteer Center of Morgan County, Decatur General
Foundation and every school system, particularly sports programs.

The support level varies based on the group and size of fundraiser, Dukes said, so it's not always just about giving away soft drinks

It could be buying scoreboards for high school sports teams, or perhaps it's a buy-one-get-one-free arrangement. Sometimes Pepsi provides the ice machine and soft drink dispensers in exchange for buying syrup.

For the Cancer Society tournament at Burningtree Country Club, Pepsi donated several can-shaped coolers filled with bottled water, Gatorade and soft drinks. It also donated a year's supply of a Pepsi product as a door prize.

That type of support wouldn't be possible without the backing of the company's owner, Roger Shabel, Dukes said.

"I guess the company's philosophy meshes with my own," Dukes said. "It's a great marriage."

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