05/18/07 — Ready to remember: Teams prepare for Relay kickoff

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Ready to remember: Teams prepare for Relay kickoff

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 18, 2007 2:03 PM

Madison Wildman was already wearing her lei just after 9 this morning, the flower necklace blowing in the wind as the 10-year-old bent down and slid metal pieces of tent-framing together.

She was one of dozens hard at work on the Wayne Community College green this morning, constructing what will become a tent city by the 6 p.m. official start of Relay For Life this evening.

Her father, Greg, said their APV Heat Transfer Team is taking on a luau theme for the event -- complete with a pig on the cooker.

"We're going to have people out wearing their grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts," he said.

Across the field, another squad was setting up their own beach party.

The Purtty Team, founded this year in honor of Carl Thornton, will serve shrimp kabobs, corn, fresh lemonade and bratwurst out of a Tiki hut.

Frances Thornton, the team's captain, used to be a member of the Purple Star Survivor's squad. But when friends and family members expressed interest in forming a team "in honor" of her son, Carl, she couldn't say no.

"Carl has been gone for three years," Mrs. Thornton said. "It's really in memory, but it's in honor of his life."

She is a survivor.

But with her cancer now back, she feels particularly blessed to see so many people getting ready for Relay.

"Words can't express," Mrs. Thornton said. "It's for all of the people who are fighting the big 'C.' I don't like to say that word."

Relay officials said more than $400,000 has already come in this year -- through donations, bake sales and raffles.

It is expected that by the end of the weekend, more than $700,000 will have been raised right here in Wayne County.

And for those who have battled or are currently battling the disease, each person who comes out tonight to stand up against cancer is a gift.

Rose McCoy was taking in the sights and sounds of feverish setup and stopped to talk to some of the "early birds," thanking them for being a part of "finding an end to cancer."

She has participated in relay events in different counties for more than a decade, ever since a close friend lost his battle with the disease.

"We've got to put an end to all of this," she said. "No more pain. That's what we're after. All those people coming out tonight, you're making a difference."