By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun
The time is growing near, and for months, teams have been actively raising money with various fundraiser activities.
The American Cancer Society Relay for Life kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, May 17 at The Cook Center at Navarro College, when all survivors of cancer and their caregivers will be honored with a dinner.
“Anyone who is a survivor or a caregive is welcome, whether or not you received an invitation, you are welcome to come,” said Annot Walthall, event chairman. “New survivors will be registered so they get an invitation next year. And you do not have to be part of a team.”
The Survivor Walk will begin the Relay, on the Cook Center parking lot at Navarro College. Walthall said there are many new teams involved this year, including some schools.
“We’ve always had teams from Bowie and Mildred, but this year we have one from Blooming Grove and two from Kerens schools,” Walthall said. “Two boys in fifth grade in county schools with cancer have really energized their schools to put together teams. I’m glad we have them as teams, but sad it has to be because the little boys are sick.”
This year there will be a huge kids area, created by Mark and Landon Lee, the brother and nephew of Crystal Shepherd, who battled a benign brain tumor this year. Lee has been very active with Relay for Life in recent years, as his family was affected by cancer through his father, the late Ronnie Lee.
“It will have two bounce houses, and lots of activities for kids,” Walthall said. “Parents will pay $10 and they and their kids will get a band, which will give them a pass to the kids’ area all night long. There will be supervision all night, so if Mom and Dad want to walk while the kid is playing, they will be supervised.”
There will be entertainment, as well, with the Sloane McCain Band performing for two hours.
“We only asked them for one hour, but they offered to give us two,” she said.
There will also be a surprise, as there is each year — one year a flash mob, another time, fireworks. But you must show up to see what it is.
The Luminaria Ceremony will take place at 9 p.m. Luminaria bags may be purchased from any team prior to the event, or at the event itself.
“We will have team competitions through the night such as scavenger hunt, hula hoop, tug of war, and a gender-bender relay,” Walthall said.
“Our goal this year is $125,000. We hit our $1 million mark this year. Last year, we were $18,000 short to hit $1 million raised since Relay began in Navarro County in 1996, but this year we’ve already raised over $40,000, so we passed the mark.”
If you’ve never before attended Relay for Life, it is suggested that you bring tennis shoes, bug spray, tissues or a hankie (because you will cry, Walthall said), a helping spirit, and pocket money for the booths — because there will be lots of good food with turkey legs, fajitas, all sorts of baked goods, popcorn, cotton candy, roasted corn, as well as fun items such as bracelets and glo-in-the-dark merchandise. There will be many opportunities to win prizes, too.
“Why Relay?” Walthall asked. “Because cancer touches everybody. It may be the person who sits by you at church, or a family member, or a child at school, but everyone has been touched by cancer.
“The American Cancer Society is second only to the United States government in money spent on cancer research. Supporting this event is really supporting all cancer research, not just one aspect of it.”
At a recent training seminar Walthall attended, she learned that while American Cancer Society gives money to all kinds of cancer, they still donate more money to breast cancer research than Susan G. Komen does.
For example, the medication that Dylan Barber takes following his leukemia diagnosis, and will take for the remainder of his life, is Gleevec. It was developed by money from ACS.
For more information, or to ask questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Everybody needs to come,” she said.
Deanna Kirk may be reached by email at email@example.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org