HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Pine Belt is a community filled with love and support for one another when in times of need. "Here's your sign!" A Hattiesburg man who experienced the emotions of a cancer diagnosis, started to use laughter as a source of life. He's invited Grammy-nominated comedian Bill Engvall to the Hub-city to bring laughter and raise awareness for those battling cancer.
"It was a shock to our system, talk about something like an incurable cancer. You do a lot of research and find more information than you ever wanted to find out. That emotion was powerful and palpable and stayed with us for a long time," said Kent Oliver, Founder of Laughs 4 Life.
It was the unforgettable day in 2015 that Kent Oliver would be diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.
Amid the emotions felt after the life-changing discovery, an event that would gain support, raise awareness, and fill a room with the warmth of laughter came into fruition.
"During that recovery time, I was around some close friends who serve as caregivers, and they kind of re-infused laughter into our lives in a big way and really made me appreciate that," Oliver said. "I decided I really wanted to do something for the community who had been so supportive of us."
Oliver organized the opportunity to give back in multiple ways. From the 'Blue Collar Tour,' comedian Bill Engvall heads to Hattiesburg to bring a combination of life and laughter.
"He's world famous comedian and was most recently on Dancing with the Stars!" Oliver said.
All proceeds from the show will go to the International Myeloma Foundation, CURE Childhood Cancer, and the Forrest General Foundation.
"Our goal this year is to distribute more than $150 thousand, and we are well on our way to do so thanks to some incredible sponsors," Oliver said.
Though Oliver deals with his diagnoses daily, he's making a difference one smile at a time, exchanging laughs for life.
"It's been incredibly overwhelming to see the support of the community, and I think that we have so much to be proud of in this community. I think that it's really a community that embraces one another in times of need," Oliver said.
Bill Engvall hits the stage at the Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg at 7:30, August 1st. You can still get your tickets. Order them through the Seanger Theatre or click here.