Event to bring community together to fight cancer
Published 8:40 pm Friday, February 19, 2016
The community is preparing to lace up its walking shoes and join together to fight back against cancer.
Beaufort County Relay for Life, set for April 29, will bring the community together to raise money to fund cancer research and programs and services offered by the American Cancer Association. This year, however, a few new features are being added to make the event more approachable to those who may not normally participate, according to Carol West, an event lead. Thanks to P&G Manufacturing, the event is, after 20 years at Washington High School, being moved to Festival Park in downtown Washington.
“This is our 20th anniversary, and we thought that this year would be a good year to make a change,” West said. “We think that (the venue) might open up some more possibilities for people to come and walk up to the event. I think it is going to open up a lot of conversations, as well as curiosity as to what is going on.”
Structurally, the event has changed a bit, as well. Rather than an all-night event, the fundraiser will only run until midnight. Opening ceremonies will commence at 6 p.m., with the survivor lap and the caregiver lap.
At 9 p.m., a luminary ceremony will be held, a component of the event that involves lit luminary bags, balloons and torches that are meant to honor a lost or surviving loved one, West said. The event will also include an option to honor a pet that was lost to cancer or that still survives, as well as live entertainment.
“It’s still Relay in every sense of the word,” West said. “We’ll even be having a special survivor dinner for survivors of cancer.”
The main event, however, won’t be the only chance for community members to get involved in the overall initiative to fight cancer. Several supporting events preceding Relay have been scheduled including a boxcar race at Transitions Theater on April 16, from 3-5 p.m., and a 5K Color Cancer Gone fun run on April 23, starting at 9 a.m.
“We’re really trying to make it special and really bring it forward in a way because time is precious; people don’t have a whole lot of it,” West said. “That’s why we’re offering other little events. These feeder events are geared to make Relay more year-round. It gives people a chance that can’t come to Relay to participate and chip in. ”
Last year, the event raised $113,000 and registered 314 cancer survivors, according to West. This year, the goal is to raise $120,000 and register 400 survivors.
According to the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry Report, Beaufort County now has the highest cancer rate in eastern North Carolina and the seventh highest in the state, based on a five-year average for the years 2009-2013.
West said participation by community residents is vital in making the event successful and raising more money for cancer research. Currently, the event has registered 23 teams, and the group hopes to get at least 32 to participate in the main event, she said.
“We Relay because cancer is still affecting Beaufort County and all of our loved ones,” West said. “Until a cure is found, Relay is going to continue. Cancer can touch anyone even if they’ve never been touched by it before. We don’t know what the future holds. Tomorrow you could hear those dreaded words of cancer so if we can all come together as a group, there’s power in numbers. We can come together and work toward better treatments and more research. (Relay) brings the community together, and we bond together and are able to lift each other up, as well.”
For more information or to register as a survivor or a team, contact Carol West at 252-944-3814 or Sonya Fortescue at 252-945-1501 or visit relayforlife.org/beaufortnc.