Hundreds of caring citizens and cancer survivors came out Thursday evening to the Relay for Life in support of family and friends who have been affected by the disease.
“This is the biggest relay event Laurel County has ever had,” said Marti Harris, Community Representative for the National Cancer Society. “We are all so pleased. Team captains were all excited when they were finding out how well we were doing. The track was filled with walkers, the campsites were full. Other than the heat, it was a great event. We had lots of activities going on. It was a lot of fun.”
“There were 26 teams. With the survivors and the guests, I would think about 500 to 600 people were there,” Harris guessed. “Right now, we’re sitting at $70,000, but we’re shooting for $75,000. We’ve got more money coming in. Last year we raised $45,000. We had 14 teams last year, so we almost doubled teams this year and half again more money.”
Luminaries were lit at the horse ring at the Optimist Sports Complex to honor survivors and in memory of those who did not survive.
Youth from the First Christian Church helped light the candles.
“I’m here with the First Christian Youth Group and we’re helping with the luminaries this evening,” Rob Shrader said. “I did a little walking, but I’m not on a team. I’m just here as a volunteer and happy to be so. It’s a wonderful event for our community. This is the second or third year we’ve been a part of the luminaries at the relay. Several in our church are involved in it. It’s a neat ministry for our kids to come and see this and experience it.”
Most of the walkers had in some way been touched with the heartbreak of cancer.
Several walkers were from the London BP Truck Stop.
“We’ve had several good friends and employees at the truck stop and BP to have cancer and survive and beat that out and some are still suffering from it,” Carlene Nantz said. “We thought we would come out and show support. My husband works at Flowers, and he has several friends who have gotten cancer and won.”
Nancy Reams had several luminaries set out for her loved ones.
“I have a friend who is going through treatments for cancer,” Reams said. “My future son-in-law’s mom was just diagnoses with cancer and, actually, my dad, my aunt and my papaw passed away with cancer. It’s very important to our family. We have several luminaries out there.”
Donna Brown came to walk in support of cancer research.
“I’m here to support the research,” Brown said. “My brother-in-law is a survivor of colon cancer, my mother-in-law is a survivor of thyroid cancer and my dad is a survivor of prostrate cancer. It’s affected our family in all different directions.”