05/22/05 — Rain doesn't dampen spirits of relay walkers

View Archive

Rain doesn't dampen spirits of relay walkers

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 22, 2005 2:06 AM

KENANSVILLE -- Rain didn't keep cancer survivors and those who have lost family members to cancer away from the sixth annual Duplin County Relay for Life.

About 700 people attended the opening ceremony of the event, which raised its goal of $107,800 for cancer research.

They walked all night, at times in the rain, on the campus of James Sprunt Community College. The relay teams then ate an early breakfast and kept on going until the closing ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The day had started at 8 a.m. Friday when some of the relay team and committee members started arriving to set up the event.

Daryn Edwards and her 3-year old daughter, Caitlin, caught up with Mrs. Edwards' mother in the parking to register her for the relay.

Her mother, Linda Batts, walked in the first lap of the relay called the victory lap. Mrs. Batts is a cancer survivor and her family was there to cheer her on. They all live in Warsaw.

"She was diagnosed when I was 16. I'm 30 now," Mrs. Edwards said as they walked to the registration table.

"She has done wonderful," Ms. Edwards said about her mother. "She has participated several years now."

Ms. Edwards' father, Bobby, helped with a concession stand. Caitlin carried grandmother's umbrella.

Some relays stop at midnight, but this one will go all night, Kathy Creech said. She was the chairman of the planning committee.

"My uncle died in August from lung cancer," Ms. Creech said. She said her uncle was in his mid-50s, her father's little brother.

"I was already involved," she said. "But then, I became more involved."

The same thing happened to Fran Brock, 54. She is the captain of a team that formed when she had cancer. The Nichols Strikers was renamed Fighting for Fran four years ago.

Nichols Food Service is one of the sponsors of the relay.

"I was involved some, but I became more involved after I got it," she said. "Our truck is here. We served lunch today for set-up, and we're serving breakfast buffet in the morning."

The rains came after dark and a parade of umbrellas eased past the tented booths set up along the James Sprunt paved walkways.

Children passed by with orange and green hair. The children had been to the Little Shop of Horrors, Rose Hill's Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church booth.

This was the church team's first year in the relay.

Kathy Herring said she believes everyone on the team has been involved with the relay by being on other teams. This was her fifth year. Her father, Wilbur Jackson, was 66 when he died of cancer, "too young."

"Every team member has been affected with a family member," she said while the song "Amazing Grace" was being sung on the stage. "That's the song they sang at his funeral."

The Mt. Zion team has seven members who are cancer survivors. Half of the team is related to Ernestine Hoffmann, who died last year at the age of 68. She had cancer 24 years.

The Pin Hook Church team also has 20 members, plenty of people to walk all night and not get stressed, Glenda Sholar said. This is the church's fourth year doing the relay.

The church had people's names sent for the prayer lists. And when the church members formed a relay team, she said, they got to meet a lot of the people whose names had been on the prayer lists.

"The rain doesn't dampen our spirits. It rained on us year before last," she said. "We have six cancer survivors, and all six are here. We have a passion for relay. Cancer has happened to so many people in our neighborhood. It's wonderful thing they do here."