Community Rallies in Support of 13th Annual Relay for Life

June 5, 2010
Dwayne Page
Cancer Survivors
Cancer Survivor Frances Hedge

Sounds of music and celebration filled the air at Greenbrook Park Friday evening as caring neighbors from throughout our community gathered to rally support for cancer survivors and to help raise money in the search for a cure during the 13th annual Relay for Life

The theme of this year's Relay was "Imagine a world with more birthdays" and featured lots of food, entertainment, and fun things for kids.

Casey Midgett, 2010 Chair of Relay for Life in DeKalb County, says so far the event has brought in around $46,000. "As far as the atmosphere, the people who were there, and the weather we had, I don't think I have been part of a Relay that went better than this one. We're going to be down this year but anything that we raise is very much appreciated. Right now, it looks like we're going to have somewhere around $46,000 to this point (as of Saturday morning). We have some more money still to come in and we have a couple more events we're going to have this year to hopefully increase that total. One of those events is the Relay 5K and One Mile Fun Run which we will have Saturday, June 12th at Greenbrook Park. We'll also have a booth at the Fiddler's Jamboree again this year. I look for us to have somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 before it's over but whether we reach it or not, I am so proud of what we've done. It's not all about money, it's about touching people's lives and I know we did that this year and I know we do that every year."

Cancer survivors took center stage during the opening ceremony to give a personal testimony as to just how long they've been a survivor and then they took the first lap around the track as the evening's activities got underway.

The walking track was lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer, and those people were given special recognition later in the evening.

Click here to listen to the luminaria ceremony

Frances Hedge, who has been a cancer survivor since October 2009, shared her story with the audience. "I learned on October 13th, 2009 that the lump removed from my breast the week before was malignant. The next week I had a second surgery and this was followed by chemo treatments. And last month, I finished my six weeks of radiation. I've been out here to many Relays, but this is the first time I've been on this side. On the receiving side. Cancer is no respector of persons. It happens to infants and it happens to the elderly. And until there is a cure, these Relays are needed to raise money for research, for treatments, and for many other things. I got this beautiful wig (I'm wearing) at no cost to me. And when I went to Cookeville for my radiation treatments, I met with a dietitian who gave me a packet of information, very good information. And I met with a social service worker who gave me two, twenty five dollar cards for gas. Everyone I came in contact with was so kind and caring and I never felt like I was going through this alone. There's a test that can be done now in some situations to determine a recurring level and if this level is low enough, then chemo treatments aren't necessary. This test was made possible through research and was not available as little as three years ago. We're here tonight to celebrate and to honor cancer survivors and to remember our loved ones who have lost the battle. Thank you to Tim, our sponsor. To Casey, Ms Iva dell and to everyone who work tirelessly to make Relay possible. Thank you to everyone who has supported Relay with your donations. And I want to say a special thank you to my family. They have been my support and given me the strength that I have needed to get through this. Thank you to my church family and to everyone who has prayed for me. My prayer is that I can stand here next year and say, "My name is Frances Hedge and I've been a breast cancer survivor since October, 2009. Thank you."

Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society's signature event, is a fun-filled overnight experience designed to bring together those who have been touched by cancer. At Relay, people from within the community gather to celebrate survivors, remember those lost to cancer, and to fight back against this disease. Relay participants help raise money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society in its lifesaving mission to eliminate cancer as a major health issue. During Relay For Life events, teams of people gather and take turns walking or running laps. The events are held overnight to represent the fact that cancer never sleeps. Through the survivors' lap and the luminaria ceremony, the people who have faced cancer first hand are honored, and those who have been lost to this disease are remembered.

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