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25 teams in Relay for Life

By REBEKAH MANN
Special to The Post-Searchlight

The 2010 Relay for Life kicked off this past Saturday.

There were 25 teams in attendance, though 31 teams had been fund-raising.

The 17th annual event began with its usual Survivors’ Walk, a lap around the track at Bainbridge Middle School. The lap is in honor of those who have survived cancer.

The theme this year was “Celebrating More Birthdays.” There were fun and games throughout the day including a magician, a police department tug-of-war contest and Relay’s own version of Fear Factor.

This version involved three rounds of kids eating unknown plates of food in a short, allotted time and without using their hands. The first round was potted meat covered in cottage cheese, the second was sweet relish in between two slices of bologna, and the third round was sauerkraut covered in mustard. The victor of the contest was young Deben Allen, who was representing Union Baptist Church.

One of the main contests this year was the “cake-off,” which involved each team creating a birthday “cake” made out of anything. Some of the entries included a carousel with motorcycles submitted by the Bainbridge Bikefest Team, a cowboy-themed cake made of tires submitted by John Johnson Elementary, and a cardboard cake topped with a school bus submitted by the local bus drivers whose team was named “Bussin’ for a Cure.”

The winner of the “cake-off” was the Bikefest Team.

Seven-year old Pearson Martin, a cancer survivor, was there with John Johnson Elementary. Pearson, who was diagnosed last year with a brain tumor, sported a cowboy hat and wished to thank everyone for their prayers. As he smiled for his picture, he waved his hat in the air and shouted “yee-haw!”

Another survivor, Kaye Barber, was diagnosed in 2004 with breast cancer. It was not caught early enough and quickly spread to her lymph nodes.

She said, “I began doing Relay the year I was diagnosed. I am so thankful for it. It is a blessing.”

Beth Zotyka, executive director of Decatur County American Cancer Society, had volunteered for six years before joining the Cancer Society full time. She believes that the money raised by Relay for Life is vitally important to saving lives. She encourages those who have been affected by cancer, even in the smallest way, to come out and participate in Relay for Life.

“Even if it was just a tiny skin cancer, it’s as real as any other type of cancer. Sometimes people don’t feel they are worthy enough to come out, but we want them all involved,” Zotyka said.

The day closed out with the Luminaria Ceremony, in which candles or torches are lit in honor or in memory of those affected by cancer.

The final ceremony is the Fight Back Ceremony, where each individual makes a personal commitment to fighting cancer in order to save lives.

Zotyka said that their goal this year was to raise $66,000, but only $46,910.98 was raised.

John Johnson Elementary raised the most of any school involved, Memorial Hospital had the most for any business, Bikefest for a civic group, and First Baptist Church raised the most out of all the churches involved.

Donations can still be made to the American Cancer Society Decatur County, 101 W, Water St., Bainbridge, GA 39817.