05/16/04 — Relay breaks fund-raising record

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Relay breaks fund-raising record

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 16, 2004 9:13 AM

This year's Relay for Life did something it has never done before -- it raised half a million dollars.

Dr. Lee Adams, one of three co-chairmen, said the unofficial total currently stands at $496,160. But teams will be turning in money for the next few weeks, and the event's organizers have no doubt that the total will be at least $500,000.

The 2004 Relay for Life was held Friday and Saturday at Eastern Wayne High School with more than 90 teams participating to raise money for cancer research and also for patient services in Wayne County. It was sponsored by the Wayne County Unit of the American Cancer Society.

During the opening ceremony Friday night, Dr. Ernest Marshall, Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, gave a cancer update.

He said that "right now there are people in universities all over the United States doing experiments to learn more about cancer and find ways to treat it.

"But you can do research right here without being in a lab. In our office, there are people participating in clinical trials to develop something to treat cancer. What you do in clinical trials here in the little town of Goldsboro echoes in eternity, to never be erased from the annals of history."

Marshall said he's heard people say that since the Relay has gotten so big, more and more people in Wayne County must be getting cancer. "But it's really that more and more people are living with cancer," he said.

To officially begin this year's Relay, cancer survivors did a lap around the track. Some walked on their own. Some were assisted by family members. Some used canes. Some were pushed in wheelchairs.

They were led by Eastern Wayne High School's band, while members of the school's varsity cheerleading squad cheered them on. At the end of the survivor's lap, white and purple balloons were released.

One survivor was 69-year-old Woodard Burch.

"The cancer made me appreciate life more," he said. "I come out to the Relay every year just because I enjoy seeing the rest of them that's survived too. I feel fantastic when I walk in the survivor's lap."

Helen Bennett, 64, was a first-time participant. She has been a cancer survivor for 41 years.

"I think this event is great and one we need to uphold," she said.

To conclude the opening ceremony, Terry Butler, Tom Bradshaw and Dr. Adams, the three co-chairman, lit the Flame of Hope, which burned throughout the Relay.

This year's campsites ranged from "HOGS for Hope, Ride for the Cure" to "A Mission to Cure Cancer" to "Let's Clean Up Cancer Together."

Campsite awards were presented to Cure Town Clowns by Wayne Memorial Hospital, first; Seasons For A Cure by New Hope Friends Church's fellowship class, second; Cancer's Last Stand by the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, third; Leading the Way for a Cure by O'Berry Center and Cherry Hospital, fourth; and Purple Star Survivors, honorable mention.

One unusual campsite this year was one by Wayne Radiation Oncology called "Fight of the Century." It showed two full-sized wooden boxers in a ring. One was "cancer" and the other was "cure."

"It's cure versus cancer," said team member Phyllis Parrish.

She said Wayne Radiation has had a campsite for several years. "Our patients are special to us," she said. "We do this to boost them and let them know we're behind them."

Awards were also given for money raised. The rookie team award for first year participating went to RBC Centura/Logan's for raising $4,738.

There were also two new traveling trophies: One for the church raising the most money, which went to Friends Fellowship Class, $23,356, and one for the school raising the most money, which went to Charles B. Aycock High School, $6,307.

Other awards for teams raising the most money were presented to Wayne Memorial Hospital, first, 475,068; Purple Star Survivors, second, $35,137; Shepherd Shockers, third, $26,934; and Friends Fellowship Class of New Hope Friends Church, fourth, $23,356.

This year's special awards went to Salem Survivors, Team Spirit; Boy Scout Troop 59 of Grantham; Boy Scout Troop 11 of St. Luke United Methodist Church; and Brenda Robinson, 10th anniversary celebration memory books.

During the luminaria service Friday night, Patricia Warren, honorary chairman, talked about her experiences with cancer.

She began participating in the Relay three years ago after being diagnosed with cancer. "When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I couldn't even say the word," she said.

"Cancer is not as bad as people say it is -- it's so much worse," she said. "Chemotherapy is not as bad as people say it is -- it's so much worse."

Mrs. Warren stressed that remission is not a cure.

"We need a cure," she said.

Following Mrs. Warren's talk, a total of 5,403 luminarias were lit. Some were in the shape of four hearts in the bleachers on one side of the track to remember some who recently lost their lives to cancer and to honor Mrs. Warren.

Some spelled out the word "hope" and "2004" in the bleachers on the other side of the track. The rest lined both sides of the track.

When the lights were turned out, the luminarias lit up the area like daytime while the Royal Descendants sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" four times. Some participants cried and hugged as they remembered their loved ones who died from cancer. Others stood motionless and quiet in the solemn moment.

At the closing ceremony Saturday, Bradshaw said it was "an incredible year. It continues to grow. It was the largest crowd we've ever had."