Scotland County’s 16th annual Relay For Life went off this weekend as a “huge success,” bringing the total funds raised this year to nearly $260,000.
The event concluded on Saturday afternoon, after teams from Scotland County’s businesses, schools, and places of worship sent representatives onto the Pate Stadium track in a 24-hour show of solidarity with cancer survivors, researchers, and all others who support a cure.
Kenly Belt, from the American Cancer Society office of constituent engagement, represented the ACS at Relay this year, commending local fund raising efforts.
“Your bake sales, your car washes, the silent auctions, the raffles, all those things that we all do, the hard work that you do and the hard work that our researchers do are linked very directly,” Belt said. “You are the first step in the research enterprise and without your work, none of this would be done.”
Belt said that as federal purse strings grow tight, increasing burdens are placed on the ACS to continue funding groundbreaking cancer research.
“As money gets tight, the ability of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute to fund investigators, to fund all those worthy projects, is declining - they can’t do it,” said Belt. “And who suffers the most are the beginning investigators, those young scientists who have not yet been able to build a body of work to support their innovative ideas. Without funding, they’re leaving cancer research because they have no choice; even the best and brightest are staring to leave… Our grants give people the opportunity to build that body of work, that data that they can then use to be competitive for NCI grants. I can’t overstate the importance of our ability to bring those scientists into the research pipeline.”
In addition to the 600 cancer survivors who opened Relay with a Survivor Lap, more than 1,500 members of 40 teams took to the track during the event, many of them motivated by the sufferings of a friend or family member.
“I represent my father, he had prostate cancer, so every time I come out here to support it,” said Linda Terry, walking with a team of city employees. “I’ve had a lot of family members who have had prostate cancer, and it’s a good reason to raise money.”
The team from Hospice of Scotland County extended their daily vocation at Relay, as the organization cares for many whose cancer cannot be cured.
“The bulk of our patients that we see at Morrison Manor and that we take care of, sit with, and visit, and most of my bereavement patients, have had cancer,” said Hospice volunteer Judith Ackeley.
“My mother died of cancer, gleoblastoma, and my father died of lung cancer,” added Betty Medlock, a nursing assistant at Hospice. “Cancer’s a terrible thing, and it’s something that you can either fight like we’re doing right now, or you can sit back and let it get you.”
This year’s top fund raising team, Campbell’s Kids for a Cure, was also recognized as one of the top 10 teams nationwide. Community superstar awards were given to the highest fund raising teams in five areas: in health to Scotland Health Care System, in industry to Meritor Stampeding for a Cure, in general to Guffey’s Groupies, in education to Laurel Hill Elementary School, and in church to Snead’s Grove United Methodist Church. Campbell’s, as the top overall fund raiser, was omitted from the selection.
Other team recognitions were the team spirit, service, and campsite awards, all awarded to Richmond Community College’s “Little Bit Supporters” team. Guffey’s Groupies won the Relay Olympics award while the Luminary Award was earned by Bryant’s Family Home Care “Snookin’ for a Cure.”
This year’s recipient of the Barbara Sasseen Angel Award, given annually to recognize someone who has contributed great personal effort to Relay, was Relay committee member Lorelei Dean.
“This year I am so very pleased to pass on the Barbara Sasseen Angel Award to a very deserving individual,” said Mary Callahan Lopez, last year’s Angel Award winner and an oncology social worker at the Scotland Cancer Treatment Center. “She has been a team captain and each year she has been the brain behind the huge undertaking of lining this track with beautiful luminaries. Whether it is a good day or a bad day, you can count on her to give Relay for Life all she has, and probably even just a little bit more.”
Dean has been a member of the Relay executive planning committee since the inception of Relay for Life in Scotland County 16 years ago.
Currently, Relay 2012 has raised $259,193, but monies will continue to trickle in in the coming months, according to Relay co-chair Stewart Thomas, who called this year’s event another unqualified success.
“It was a record turnout as far as people were concerned, the weather was great - we couldn’t imagine it coming together any better than it did,” Thomas said. “We’re very proud that Scotland County stands strong in support of the fight against cancer.”