LAURINBURG — The 20th annual Survivor’s Dinner brought together more than 350 cancer survivors, caregivers, family members and friends to share a meal and tales of fighting a difficult adversary —cancer.
This week’s event also served as the kick of for the 2016 Relay for Life set to begin on Sept. 30 at Scotland High School. The 24-hour fundraising will begin at 3 p.m. that day and end on Oct. 1 at 3 p.m.
About 75 volunteers helped sign up survivors to sign up and participate in the relay, according to Malerie Thompson, head of the Survivor Committee that helped organize Thursday’s dinner.
“For me, being up on the stage last night and seeing the sea of survivors in front of me was an amazing feeling,” Thompson said.
The dinner also included a booth for survivors to get photos taken with their family and fellow cancer survivors and performance by the Crazy Feet Cloggers.
“The dinner meant a lot for the survivors and it gave them a chance to come together to see people in similar situations — it was almost like a reunion,” said Carol Thomas, co-chair for Scotland County Relay for Life of Scotland County. “The dinner gives them hope.”
Relay for life raises money for cancer research, and brings awareness about what the American Cancer Society does for those battling cancer and their families.
Over the years, Scotland County’s Relay for Life event has raised millions to fund the cancer research supported by the American Cancer Society, with annual totals of $200,000 in recent years.
This year’s event promises to be another strong fundraiser, according to organizers.
As of Friday afternoon, Relay for Life had raised $78,037.25 with the help of 528 participants. The Campbell Kids for a Cure relay team had raised $13,850 as of Friday.
Some 40 Relay teams will take to the track on Sept. 30, pausing for an opening ceremony where cancer survivors in attendance will perform an honorary lap, followed by caregivers. At that point, the teams will enter the track en masse to put their team spirit on parade. There is also a luminary ceremony that takes place after dark, so participants can remember those lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those affected by cancer.
“We encourage people from the community to come out and show your support for all the survivors and participants of the 2016 Relay for Life.
The national Relay for Life effort was started in 1985 by Dr. Gordy Klatt in Tacoma, WA, where he walked around a track for 24 hours and raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. Since then, the event has gone on to raised almost $5 billion for the fight against cancer.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171