Relay For Life celebrates life, honors those lost to cancer

Published 9:43 pm Friday, April 22, 2016


Belinda Powell, Pam Burch and Merreann McDonald, all cancer survivors, hold up their hands together in celebration during the Survivors Walk Friday evening. — Powell Cobb

Those who have passed away from cancer in Decatur County will never be forgotten, and Friday’s Relay For Life event at Willis Park proved that with the glowing light of dozens of candles.

Bags lined up on Broughton Street, each with a name of a loved one who lost the battle to cancer, were brightly lit with candles placed inside them. Family members, friends and other loved ones passed around the square silently, remembering those they have lost.

There were tears. But there also was smiles and laughter.

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“I’m alive and thankful,” said Belinda Powell, a breast cancer survivor. She was grinning and joyful as she spoke. “I thank God for it everyday. It means I am able to get up every morning, go to work and just live life to the fullest and understand what’s important. It put things in perspective, and I just thank God for every day that I have.”

Standing with her was Merreann McDonald, a breast cancer survivor that fought alongside her for the past year, and Pam Burch, a survivor who counseled, comforted and guided Powell and McDonald every step of the way.

“There’s a debt to the community, this debt of gratitude,” McDonald said. “You are so thankful for the people that love you and support you. Belinda and I have had Pam come alongside us. She’s walked the road that we walked. Many people whose lives haven’t been touched by cancer have supported us too, and that’s been so meaningful.”

Friday evening’s event featured a Survivor Walk, raffled giveaways and the release of lighted balloons into the sunset sky.

A special segment was taken to honor Shylene Crump, Potter Street Elementary School’s chorus teacher that passed away from cancer April 9. She was 43.

The Potter Street Chorus sang in honor of Crump. It was a celebration of her years of devotion to the children and music.

“She was such a special person,” said Nancy Kennedy, a kindergarten teacher at Potter Street Elementary. “She just touched everybody’s lives. She was always there for the children. On the last day she taught, she was so sick, but she had to be there for the kids. When she walked in the room, you could tell the air she had with the kids. They loved to go to chorus.”

A total of $17,488.77 was raised for Relay For Life in Decatur County this year. Awards were given out to the top three fundraising organizations, with first place going to First Port City Bank with $3,300.86, second place going to West Bainbridge Elementary School with $2,660.39 and third place going to Potter Street Elementary with $2,289.

Relay For Life Chairman Jennifer DePappa said her favorite part of the evening was the dedication to Crump, remembering back to when she taught her.

“I thank the community, the teams and the committee for all their hard work and I hope to see them next year,” DePappa said.