05/15/05 — Relay for Life a giant success

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Relay for Life a giant success

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 15, 2005 2:01 AM

Amid tears of joy, lots of applause and cheers of victory, Dr. Lee Adams announced that this year's Relay for Life raised $560,000 by the closing ceremonies Saturday. The goal was $500,000.

"I wouldn't doubt that we'll end up with about $575,000 after all the money comes in," he said.

Relay participants braved cool temperatures, a mist of rain and occasional lightning to raise money for the Wayne County Unit of the American Cancer Society Friday and Saturday. The event outgrew Eastern Wayne High School, where it has been held for the past several years, and moved to Wayne Community College this year.

It all began Friday at 6 p.m. with an opening ceremony. Master of ceremonies Jerry Wayne, a disc jockey with Oldies 107.9 radio, said it was the biggest Relay for Life he has ever attended.

After Boy Scout Troop 8 posted the colors and Miss Goldsboro, Candace Weeks, sang the Star Spangled Banner, the Flame of Hope was lit, and it burned throughout the Relay.

Dr. James Atkins with the Southeastern Medical Oncology Center gave a cancer update, saying the most important news is that the treatment of cancer continues to evolve at a rapid rate.

"It's because of people like you out here tonight," he said.

He also noted that one of every four children born today in this country will develop cancer in their lifetime.

"Right now, half of the people who get cancer are cured; the cancer goes away and never comes back," Dr. Atkins said. "But it has to get better than that."

Money raised through the Relay for Life will help turn even more cancer stories into good news.

"You are our heroes. You are the ones who make a difference for our cancer patients," Dr. Adkins said. "We need to learn we really need to get smarter. People are now coming in asking what clinical trials are available. We never had that before."

Atkins stressed knowledge is power. "You can't fight any battle without knowledge."

Led by a bagpiper, about 300 people did the cancer survivors' lap while Eastern Wayne and Rosewood high school cheerleaders cheered them on. Some walked, while others were pushed in their wheelchairs, but they all held their heads high as other Relay participants cheered them around the track.

About 4,800 luminarias were lit during a 9 p.m. ceremony. Four special heart shapes were in memory of the late Dr. Ed Hogan, professor at Wayne Community College, and the late Florence White, a Cancer Society volunteer who was killed in a car accident last year, and in honor of Olivia Whaley, this year's honorary Relay co-chairman, and Brenda Herritt, a local woman who has battled cancer twice and has been co-captain of her Relay team for several years. More luminarias spelled out the word "hope."

Boy Scout Troop 59 of Grantham placed all the luminarias, which students at Greenwood Middle School sorted and put into alphabetical order around the track and in the bleachers.

The smell of barbecue, pizza, turkey legs and more wafted throughout the campsites. Music played and Relay participants walked the track and visited with one another throughout the night.

During the closing ceremony, the winners of several awards were announced. The Wayne County employees team won the Team Spirit Award. A special award went to Kim Hernandez Brown, who gave 110 percent throughout the Relay by getting people to sign a pledge to have a colonoscopy.

Also, teams raising the most money were announced. They were Wayne Memorial Hospital, first, $68,250; Purple Star Survivors, second, $40,076; Handy Mart, third, $30,379; and Shepherd's Shockers, fourth, $26,594.

Dr. Adams, one of the three Relay co-chairman, praised those participating in the 2005 Relay for Life.

"We've got good people in Wayne County," he said. "It's a wonderful thing to feel the spirit of this event."

"Wayne County's done it again," co-chairman Terry Butler said. "We have truly been blessed."