LAURINBURG —Storm warnings and heavy rains pushed this year’s Scotland County Relay for Life indoors.
But the large, enthusiastic and sometime wet crowd that turned out Friday night for the fight against cancer, didn’t seem to care.
About 500 people — survivors wearing purple and caretakers in green — took part in this year’s 19th annual Relay inside Scotland High School auditorium. The event is typically held outside at the high school’s Pate Stadium. Still the auditorium was home to live music, a flash mob and plenty of food.
“This is kind of the rained-out version of Relay for Life, so we’re doing everything indoors,” said co-chair Stewart Thomas. “We have a huge crowd here, it doesn’t seem like the weather has dampened anyone’s spirit.”
The Colors of Hope 5K planned for this morning has been rescheduled for Oct. 31 at 9 a.m.
“This is only the second time we had it inside,” Thomas said. “With a bad weather Relay, you don’t usually do as well.”
As of Thursday night, the organization raised a little more than $190,000 for the American Cancer Society. Relay organizers hope to come close to last year’s income of $250,000. However, with the indoor event it might not beat the previous earnings.
Scotland County Relay for Life has placed among the top three fundraisers nationwide since 2008 for its population category. Organizers point out that much of the money raised comes back to the state. Of the $55.8 million awarded by the ACS for research as of Feb. 28, 2015, $23.6 million ends up in this state, more than 40 percent of the total.
“It’s disappointing because the atmosphere outside is an opportunity for so many more people to come out and celebrate,” Thomas said. “But there is still a lot of enthusiasm.”
Survivors and caretakers had the opportunity to do their traditional lap in support of the cause. Only this year, they took a “lap” across the stage of the auditorium.
The luminaries ceremony was still held in honor and remembrance of past cancer patients or survivors. The names of survivors or passed loved ones were displayed on a screen in the auditorium. The traditional ceremony with the bags and candles has been postponed for a walk through ceremony when the weather clears up.
“There’s no way we could even accommodate as many people inside, but you just do what you can,” Thomas said. “These people are still pumped tonight.”
Even without the track and facilities, everyone remained optimistic about their ultimate mission.
“We’re all survivors here and we have our children and our cousins and we’re all just a family that Relay’s for over eight years now as a team,” said survivor Cindy Warwick. “Everyone still pulls together.”
Warwick came with her aunt and uncle who are also cancer survivors. The three survivors were excited to come out and sell sausage, peppers and onions with their team of about 20 people.
“It all started because of me,” said 81-year-old survivor Bettie Young. “I was diagnosed with lymphoma 12 years ago, that’s when I first found out I had cancer”
The family has attended Relay events for 14 years, even before being diagnosed with cancer. They said they enjoy coming out and selling food and raffling off items in order to raise as much as they can to find a cure.
“We will be working during the year because we weren’t able to sell tonight,” Warwick said in regards to the clothing and afghans she usually raffles off.
She said her family will continue to support the cause no matter the weather.
“We weren’t discouraged because of the rain,” she said. “We’re just glad to be here.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.