04/18/09 — Survivor's lesson: Fundraisers honor all those who have fought or are fighting

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Survivor's lesson: Fundraisers honor all those who have fought or are fighting

Jackie Pendergraft did not waste a moment of her short life, her family and friends say.

A beacon of sunlight and hope, the 45-year-old knew the battle she was facing was a hard one, but continued on anyway, silencing expressions of pity and wiping away the tears of those who loved her and worried about her future. She did not have time for such moments of weakness -- there was too much living left to do.

Unfortunately, even her courage and determination were not enough, and she lost her fight with cancer.

Jackie might be gone, but the lessons she taught her family and friends live on -- in their memories of her spirit, and with their determination that they will continue her work and wish that soon, someday, no other family will have to go through the sadness of losing someone they love to cancer.

So, next weekend, nearly five years after Jackie's death from ovarian cancer, her family and friends will gather at the Paramount Theater to honor her.

They will watch her favorite Elvis impersonator and raise money for those who are still fighting cancer.

The proceeds from the event will go to the Relay for Life effort -- just as Jackie would have wanted.

And those who are remembering Jackie next weekend are inviting the community to come share their memories and to help support their cause.

After all, Jackie would have wanted it that way. She did not know a stranger, her family says. Anyone who came around would immediately be part of her family.

This is just one of many Relay for Life fundraising events going on right now in this community. And most of the efforts are motivated by the memory of someone who has fought or in honor of those who are still fighting. Each of them has a story as inspiring as Jackie's -- and each of them can teach a lesson about living your life with courage, dignity and the knowledge that the days you have are too short to fill them with anything but love and compassion.

We hope that Wayne County residents respond with the same spirit and support next weekend that they do for the annual Relay for Life event and fill the Paramount Theater -- not necessarily because they knew Jackie, but to help fulfill the wish of a woman who never lost hope and filled her life with love.

She represents the spirit of those in our own lives who have fought or who are still fighting cancer. By honoring her, we honor them.

And there will be many more opportunities to support this community effort that joins a fight that we might be closer to winning than we realize -- the battle to end cancer.

So, with more than a month to go before the actual Relay, the outstanding effort and spirit that this community shows are already beginning leading up to the actual Relay May 29-30.

So join the fun and be a part of this year's effort.

It is always one of Wayne County's finest moments.

Published in Editorials on April 18, 2009 11:13 PM