Cancer fight marks 20th year

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The community is lacing up its walking shoes and gearing up for a night of festivities to aid in the battle against cancer.

Beaufort County Relay for Life kicks off its 20th year Friday evening, an event that will take place at a new location this year — Festival Park. The move was made to provide a scenic location for this year’s anniversary festivities, as well as to draw more people who happen to be visiting the downtown, according to Carol West, one of four main Relay for Life organizers.

According to the updated North Carolina Central Cancer Registry Report, a five-year average for the years 2009-2013, Beaufort County replaces Lenoir County as having the highest cancer rate in eastern North Carolina. Beaufort County also has the seventh-highest rate in the entire state.

The updated figures make the local fight against the disease that much more important and meaningful, according to West.

“People need to come out and continue in the fight against cancer and trying to find cures and better treatment options for cancer patients,” West said. “We’ll continue to Relay here in Beaufort County until that cure is found. (The updated statistic) is another reason why it’s so important to come out and support all the efforts of the teams out there.”

West said it’s a fun-filled event that brings out cancer survivors, caregivers and others who have been affected by cancer.

The event will kick-off at 6 p.m. with the annual survivor lap, followed by the caregivers lap and the “Kids Stepping Up for a Cure” lap, led by Elsa from “Frozen” and Spiderman, according to West.

This year’s event will also feature live entertainment from two local bands — Pamlico Sound Machine, performing from 7-8 p.m., and Refuge from the Edge, performing from 10-10:45 p.m. — as well as a Kid-O-Lympics area that will have a lineup of kids’ activities available.

There are 34 teams and 251 survivors registered for the event, West said. Beaufort County has been known for its high volume of survivor registrants, something that has won it two consecutive American Cancer Society’s Power of Hope Award for having the most survivors registered per capita in the Southeast Atlantic Division.

Other attractions include: an opportunity for attendees to duct tape two Beaufort County Schools administrators — Superintendent Don Phipps and Assistant Superintendent Mark Doane — to a wall; the Happy Friday Relay Dance Party at 8 p.m.; and the Relay 500 Box Car Race, starting at 9:45 p.m., according to West.

One of the most significant and special moments will take place at 9 p.m. — the annual luminary ceremony. This component involves lighting candles in white paper bags, lit-up balloons and luminary torches to honor a loved one or friend who is winning their fight against cancer or to remember someone lost to cancer, West said.

“To me, the survivor lap and luminary ceremony is the most important part of Relay,” West said. “That’s when we will light up the night with hope and remembrance. So we will celebrate in their honor or in their memory. We’re just so excited, and we want everyone to come out and be a part of this big community event where we’ve united together.”

Beaufort County Relay for Life will also be “Tossing Out Cancer” through a corn hole tournament, set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the National Guard Armory on Minute Man Lane in Washington. Cost is $30 per team or person. The event will include door prizes and lunch available.

For more information about Relay for Life, contact Carol West at 252-944-3814. For more information about the corn hole tournament, contact Ron West at 252-944-3813 or Jerry Snead at 252-414-5521. Festival Park is located on the Washington waterfront between On the Waterfront restaurant and the N.C. Estuarium.