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Granddaughter Inspires Fayetteville Mayor in Non-Political Fight

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FAYETTEVILLE — Six-term Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins has taken on several challengers in his runs for office, and he has always won. But the battle Dawkins now faces will be tougher than any political race.

The opponent is cancer, and a 7-year-old is inspiring Dawkins to come out on top once again.

"You want all the time you can get, and the treatment, it will certainly slow it down," Dawkins said.

Dawkins is in the fight of his life. He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago. After surgery, he remained in remission, but he recently found out his cancer is back and that means chemotherapy.

"The fight is a little tougher than it was a few years ago, but it gives you optimism," Dawkins said.

The 62-year-old says his optimism comes from his one hero.

"That's Jill Dawkins, my granddaughter," said Dawkins.

Four years ago, Jill was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She went through extensive chemotherapy. At 7 years old, she is now happy and cancer-free. Dawkins says he has learned a lot from watching her battle the disease.

"How to take it on, and of course she says through this treatment she want's to be there with papa," Dawkins said. "She's a real inspiration."

It's not unusual for the mayor to work 60 hour weeks. He makes hundreds of public appearances a year. Dawkins say his work as mayor will continue, but he may rely on his 12-member council a little more.

Dawkins says he will work from home on the days he does not feel up to coming into the office. Fayetteville's longest-serving mayor says he feels good about his future. He plans on seeking another two-year term in 1999.

A fundraising golf tournament will be held next week atGates Four Golf and Country Clubin honor of Dawkins' granddaughter and in memory of her friend at Duke Children's Hospital. All of the proceeds will go toward Pediatric Brain Tumor Research atDuke.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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