05/15/11 — Ready to Relay? County teams pulling out fundraising stops for Friday event

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Ready to Relay? County teams pulling out fundraising stops for Friday event

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 15, 2011 1:50 AM

It's not about the taste of a homemade applejack.

It's not about winning a simple carnival game.

It's about celebrating, if only for a few hours, the courage of those who have fought their way to another birthday -- and holding, in the company of family and friends, silent vigils for those who lost battles far too soon.

As Wayne County's Relay For Life approaches -- the event's opening ceremonies are set to commence Friday at 6 p.m. at Wayne Community College -- the chairmen of the most successful fundraising event in eastern North Carolina are asking the public to join in what they hope will be another unforgettable experience.

Dr. Lee Adams promises a "great time," complete with "good food and wonderful fellowship."

But more importantly, it will be "a time of sharing and remembering," he said.

And co-chair Debbie Pennell said the two-day event would create a "weekend to remember."

"We welcome everyone to join us in this fun-filled weekend as we honor, cherish and remember all those whose lives have been touched by cancer," she said. "What we must realize is that cancer never sleeps -- and neither can we."

There are currently 104 teams registered for this year's main event -- 26 that are joining the Relay experience for the first time.

And other new additions will undoubtedly please those who turn out, Mrs. Pennell said.

Like the ReMax hot air balloon, that, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday, will carry Wayne residents into the skies.

"It's going to be awesome," Mrs. Pennell said. "We're really excited about it."

But perhaps the biggest draw, aside from the food that brings people, by the thousands, to the college each year, will be the ceremony meant to honor all those who have fought -- and those still fighting -- cancer.

As prayers are said and a poem read, luminarias will be lit -- a moment that, even during those years when rain threatened to dampen spirits, evokes tears, long embraces and storytelling.

"It is a special time that we pause to remember and honor the special people in our lives," Mrs. Pennell said.

And it is an opportunity, she added, to put faces on a disease that has touched so many households, both in Wayne County and across the world.

"We have to fight the fight diligently without ceasing," Mrs. Pennell said. "So please come out."