For months, Lynchburg’s Relay for Life teams have talked the talk. Now, after dozens of fundraisers, from breakfasts to roadblocks, it’s finally time to walk the walk.
Moore County’s Relay for Life event is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday at Wiseman Park. It kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 7 and Closing Ceremonies are slated for 6 a.m. on Saturday, June 8.
This year’s theme is “Dream, Hope, Relay Big.” With 11 teams signed up to participate and a many, many more folks expected to turn out for the 12-hour event, it’s a fitting theme. Seven of the 11 teams signed up boast at least 10 team members each, and four of those teams have 20 or more members.
“I participated in the first relay in Moore County … I think this is the ninth year,” said Belinda Jo Smith, who has gone from a team member to a team captain in nearly a decade of participating in the event. “When we first started doing this, I didn’t really have anybody close to me diagnosed with cancer.”
That’s not the case now, however, as Smith’s father-in-law passed away after being diagnosed with the disease. She said that after participating that first time, the list of those she’s known with cancer has continued to grow.
“Everybody is effected. It may not be you, but everybody knows someone who is,” she said. “Being a part of it, at first it was ‘hey, this is a good way to raise money.’ Now it’s much more personal. We do a Luminaria Ceremony to (remember) people. And it’s nice to see there are so many people walking around in purple shirts … those are the survivors.”
Smith is captain of the Hotshots, Eagles and Birdies team. While the focus of Relay is usually aimed at the events in late spring — typically late May and early June — she said her team works toward the event for nearly half the year, beginning in the fall. This year they added a pancake breakfast to their fundraising routine, which also included pink T-shirts and a ‘Pink Out’ at a Moore County High School basketball game, as well as a Pampered Chef party.
The Hotshots, Eagles and Birdies have raised more than $6,000 for their efforts thus far.
“The (pancake breakfast) went really well,” said Smith. “We made about $700. We sold lots and lots of pancakes. Hopefully it will get really big like it used to be as we get more advertisement.”
Smith said the bond in a close-knit town like Lynchburg makes Relay even better.
“That’s part of the reason I think that our Relay is so special is because we are a small community and everyone knows everyone,” she said. “The theme for Relay says that cancer never sleeps, so for one night, neither will we. That’s what our team tries to do. It’s hard to stay awake for all 12 hours and stay enthused, but a cancer patient has to (endure) more than that, so we why can’t we do it?”
This year’s Relay will be chocked full of fun-filled events — and good food — like the Robo Surfer, homemade ice cream, walking tacos, baked potatoes, a dunking booth and a Mr. Relay for Life Womanless Beauty Pageant. In addition, Tullahoma’s WDUC FM-93.9 radio station — which serves Coffee, Moore, Bedford, Lincoln, Franklin, Marshall and Rutherford counties — will be doing a live remote from Wiseman Park beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The radio station will also be doing a live remote from Shelbyville’s Relay on Saturday morning.
Cancer survivors and cancer caregivers are invited to take the first lap of Friday’s event, which will then be followed by the Parade of Teams. The Relay event will go on for 12 hours and will include the Candlelight Luminaria ceremony at approximately 9 p.m. to remember those lost to the disease.
For nearly three decades, Relay For Life events have been life-changing cancer fundraising events that help communities across the globe fight back against cancer. Participants can form a team, raise money, join a planning committee, volunteer, or simply come out and walk. Every little bit helps.
Since the first Relay for Life event in May of 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., the movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising more than $4 billion to fight cancer.
For more than 65 years, the American Cancer Society has been finding answers that save lives — from changes in lifestyle to new approaches in therapies to improving cancer patients’ quality-of-life. No single nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization in the US has invested more to find the causes and cures of cancer.
“Your American Cancer Society is the official sponsor of birthdays. Won’t you please come join us in creating a world with more birthdays and less cancer?” said American Cancer Society staff partner Harriett Stewart.
For more information, contact Penny Smith, RFL Chair at (931) 307-8768. For cancer information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call 1-800-227-2345.
RELAY FOR LIFE FACTS
In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.
In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the colorful, historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000.
His vision turned into more than 5,200 Relay For Life events across the United States today and more than $4.5 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer.
The Survivors Lap
During the Survivors Lap, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while cheered on by the other participants who line the track. Relay For Life events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give time, love, and support to their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.
The Luminaria Ceremony
The Luminaria Ceremony takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.
According to the website <cancerneversleeps.org>:
There are more than 100 types of cancers; any part of the body can be affected.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world.
More than 30 percent of cancers could be cured if detected early and treated adequately.
More than 30 percent of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and preventing infections that may cause cancer.
—By ROBERT HOLMAN, MCN Editor