Relay should make its fundraising goal

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Relay For Life participants take part in Saturday’s “survivors’ lap,” a special initial lap to celebrate those who have survived their battles with cancer.|Carolyn Iamon

Relay For Life participants take part in Saturday’s “survivors’ lap,” a special initial lap to celebrate those who have survived their battles with cancer.|Carolyn Iamon

A caring community and 34 teams came together at the 20th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life, held Saturday at the Bainbridge Middle School track from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. They were there to show their determination in the fight against cancer.

ACS staff partner Kayna McGhee addressed the crowd in opening ceremonies stating, “We are all here because we hate cancer. The funds raised at Relays will help fund research to find a cure for cancer and improve the quality of life for cancer patients.”

Saturday’s event raised $64,013.61 toward the goal of $65,500. With outstanding sponsorships and team money yet to be turned in, the organizers are confident the goal will be met by the August deadline.

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Following opening ceremonies, survivors and their families completed the first lap around the track in the survivors walk, celebrating the lives of those who have fought and won, or are still fighting the battle.

The Spirit Stick was proudly carried by Sandy Ward Williams, who spoke at opening exercises of her battle with cancer, saying, “It was the hardest fight I ever fought. I am celebrating that I’m still on this earth.” She quoted her oncologist as saying she was, “a miracle.”

Williams reminded the crowd that last year she did the walk in a wheel chair. She was accompanied again this year by her brother Brad Ward and her father, Johnny Ward — all cancer survivors.
Bringing up the rear was Marian Wise, who determinedly made the walk while toting a portable oxygen tank. She was assisted by Yvonne Whittaker.

Teams competed in relay games, cooked out on grills and enjoyed a day of sunshine and fun.

The grounds were filled with team tents, each with a theme. Bainbridge Middle School won the best tent design for the second year in a row with their theme, “Wrestling Cancer.” They had a miniature wrestling ring and put on shows depicting wrestlers defeating cancer.

The car races event attracted a lot of attention. Two person teams competed in home-made cardboard vehicles. The First United Methodist Church team, whose vehicle was prophetically named “Victorious,” was declared the winner. Team members were Austin Wade, Matt Martin and Kay Bush.

A real crowd pleaser was the event titled, “Dude looks like a Lady Pageant.” Ten brave men, representing the teams of Action GM, Anytime Fitness, BHS Interact Club, BHS Jr. ROTC, West Bainbridge Baptist Church, the DC Warriors of Decatur County, Bainbridge Middle School, Decatur County EMS, West Bainbridge Elementary and Potter Street Elementary, dressed in drag and performed dances to raise money. Enthusiastic audience members raced to the stage to place money in their garters or handbags, or anyplace else they could fit it in.

Following the dances, each was given one hour to see who could raise the most money and win the contest. The dancer representing West Bainbridge Baptist Church won “Mr. Moneybags,” with a total of $359.

In overall team results, Memorial Hospital and Manor team raised the most money of any team with $5,817.67, while Action GM won the most money raised by a rookie team, with $3,903.39.

Late Saturday night, at about 8:45 p.m., the Relay’s solemn luminary ceremony was held. All of the lights were turned off at the track, except for the paper-bag candles surrounding the track, and some larger torches that illuminated the Relay attendees. Each candle and torch represented a loved one who is either battling cancer, or has lost the battle to cancer.

The names of those loved ones were then read aloud in a quiet ceremony.

The 2013 Relay For Life committee was chaired by Beverly Shirley and co-chaired by Valerie Faircloth.