05/31/09 — Relay teams use fun, food to raise money

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Relay teams use fun, food to raise money

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 31, 2009 12:23 AM

Sydney Myers, Evan Sutton and Tristian Wiggins must not have understood -- playing the "Three Little Pigs" means protecting the house from the Big Bad Wolf, not simply looking cute in pink pig ears.

Or maybe they were somehow wiser than their years.

After all, their team's booth at Relay for Life was called "Huff, Puff and Blow Cancer Away."

So one sat, mostly, in her parents' arms while the pigs' nemesis kicked back in a rocking chair and "cooked" different types of cancer.

This was one battle members of Garris Chapel United Methodist Church were happy to let the wolf win.

More than 90 booths were registered at this year's Relay.

One sold barbecue sandwiches and ribbon fries.

Another offered bright green and orange hairdos to those bold enough to wear them.

And a few booths down, 11-year-old Jacob Higdon got the chance to test his arm and knock down some cans.

But Friday night was about so much more than warm apple jacks and turkey sticks.

Behind the county fair-like atmosphere were stories of fighters and survivors.

Several of them were told under the "Rays of Hope" tent.

The team was started by former Miss Goldsboro Nicki Sanderson in honor of her father, Kenneth, who developed melanoma 14 years ago after a lifetime spent working the family farm in Grantham.

"I've got a lot to be thankful for," he said, looking around the tent at members of his family.

Billy Wells was among them.

He, too, knows something about life with cancer.

For years he served with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

But then he developed a cough -- bronchitis, doctors said at first.

It was only when he didn't get better, and they examined him again, that they found the cancer.

"The chemo is very, very potent," Wells said. "I'd stay sick for almost four, five days afterward."

But he was all smiles Friday night as he sat in a lawn chair next to his fiancee, CC.

There were stories waiting to be told under other tents, too.

Like at Wayne Memorial Hospital's "Staying Alive Diner," where survivor Kim Goff talked about why the team chose the diner theme.

"We're shaggers," she said. "We love to dance."

And one of their sponsors, Andy's Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers, was the inspiration behind the decor.

But she had other things than burgers, fries and poodle skirts to talk about.

Like why it means so much to see thousands attend the annual Relay.

"Just to see the support, it's awesome," she said, choking up. "Because you never know who will be here next year."

This year's booth winners include: Overall -- Wayne Memorial Hospital; Schools -- Eastern Wayne High School; Churches -- Garris Chapel United Methodist Church; Businesses -- T.A. Loving; and Miscellaneous -- M & M Cancer Survivors.