For a good cause, and for their heroes
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 20, 2012 1:50 AM
Sally Ann Mitchell, 4, holds her mother Donna's hand at the Garris Chapel United Methodist Church campsite. The church took first place in its division during the campsite competition.
Behind the elaborate decorations, the yummy food and the calls to buy, the campsites at the 2012 Relay for Life had a purpose -- to help raise one more dollar, perhaps the one that will fund the research that will lead to a cure for cancer.
So while those who worked long into the night had a task, they also had a purpose -- a reason why they Relay.
Just as every survivor has a story, so was there a history behind the campsites set up at the fairgrounds for this year's event.
Paige Hudson lost her husband, James Serlick, to the disease in 2010. Last year's booth paid tribute to the "police side" of his life as a former Goldsboro officer. This year's entry, "Nail Cancer to the Cross" was an homage to Serlick's spiritual side.
Patrons could not only purchase T-shirts but were invited to write a message or wish and nail it to the large wooden cross nearby.
Mrs. Hudson's road has not been an easy one, but she has met someone who understands the pain of losing a spouse much too soon.
Her new husband, Keith, lost his wife in 2010.
They married about a month ago.
Each admits it was definitely easier to embark on a relationship because of their shared grief.
"Both of us know how it feels to go through that," Mrs. Hudson said. "You don't have to explain to somebody, I'm missing him today. He understands because he's missing Anna."
"For both of us it was a good reset button," her new husband said.
For their wedding, they had a memory table, featuring pictures of their former spouses. And in their living room, Hudson said, they have a similar place of honor.
"They'll always be a part of our lives," said Hudson, who pastors a church in Little Washington.
Judy Lane of Mount Olive has been participating at Relay for 10 years. She and her co-workers from Time Warner Cable initially became interested after another co-worker was diagnosed one year in October and passed away three months later.
"I have family and I have friends, I have lost many," she said.
Too many, said her co-captain, Bonnie Strickland, who helped run the booth featuring T-shirts and hand-painted wine bottles for sale.
The Garris Chapel United Methodist Church booth featured a make-shift castle, in front of which stood an array of Disney princesses, while nearby was a mirror featuring everyone's brightest wish -- "to live happily ever after."
Lynn Crumpler, team captain since 2000, said this year's event held even more significance for the church members as they have all rallied behind their pastor, Jerry Mitchell, currently battling pancreatic cancer. Most of those in attendance, she pointed out, were wearing "Jerry's Journey" T-shirts in support.
"Because cancer's touched so many of our families, (members) have always been willing to do whatever, but this year it has special meaning," she said.
The Bella Babes booth, comprised of members of the Seymour Johnson women's gym, "Bellamorphosis," featured a super heroes theme.
Dressed as "Wonder Woman," Rebecca Moore said it was her first year volunteering, but the second year for the group participation.
Among the items up for sale were handmade hair ribbons and wreaths, as well as "cups of courage," mugs filled with candy and featuring the message, "Strength lies within."
Staff Sgt. Rick Eubanks was there to support his wife, Allison, a gym member.
"It's just kind of nice to raise the awareness," he said. "I had some relatives pass away and my wife, her grandmother is a double cancer survivor."
Julie Rozzi, team captain, also had a personal reason for participating.
"My mom passed away from breast cancer about 10 years ago. I finally got to the place where I could do this two years ago," she said. "All of us have a person."
The T.A. Loving booth -- "Wanted: A Cure for Cancer" -- was constructed like a jail complete with bars on the windows. The foodstand featured barbecue sandwiches, burgers and sodas.
While the company has been a long-time participant, this was the first year the team served food at their booth, said Teresa King, team captain.
"It will not be our last," she said, gesturing at a long line of patrons.
In addition to individual reasons for supporting the cause, the employees rallied around their own president, Sam Hunter, himself a survivor, Ms. King said.
"A lot of people, everybody has family members that were survivors or have lost somebody to cancer," she said.
A popular stop for the younger set was the Zion United Methodist Church booth, which annually features "glow thingys," said Lisa Mozingo, responsible for painting the fire engine sign in front of the booth -- "Zion UMC is Fired up for a Cure."
In addition to glow wands, necklaces and bracelets, though, it was all about raising money for Relay for Life.
"It's a good thing and as a church, you're supposed to do good things for people," Ms. Mozingo said. "There's a lot of people in our church that have been affected by cancer."
Some would surely like to say, "Adios to Cancer," the theme of the overall winning campsite, which was sponsored by Eastern Wayne Elementary School.
Team captain Kristina Jones said this year in particular there have been more staff members and even students challenged by cancer.
"It's just really touched us this year," she said. "We have always Relayed but we Relayed a little harder this year."
The school's "walking taco" booth featured make-your-own tacos in a Fritos bag.
It was the idea of Martha Alemdar, a special education teacher at the school, who had seen something similar on base a few years ago and decided to suggest it this year.
"Because we're walking, people can walk and eat at the same time," she said.
Eastern Wayne was also the home school of one of this year's honorary children's co-chairs, Ayden Egan.
Butterflies were the centerpiece of the Brogden Primary School booth, which captured the judges' vote for school campsite winner.
"Spreading Wings of Hope" was emblazoned on a sign at the booth, while brightly colored T-shirts featured the image of a butterfly, drawn by Cadee Moore, whose mother, Jeneen, is a teacher assistant at Brogden Primary.
"She loves drawing butterflies," said Mrs. Moore, who explained that they had also learned from a relative who works at Kitty Askins that the butterfly symbolizes new life.
Cadee, 13, is a seventh-grader at Rosewood Middle School.
"I have lost a lot of family members from cancer," she said. "I wanted to help my mom's school."
It proved successful, as 134 shirts were sold and more orders are still pouring in. So far, the effort raised $587, Mrs. Moore said.
"I think that's amazing and as long as they find a cure, it's all worth it," Cadee said.
Other campsites recognized, by division, included Garris Chapel, church; Wayne Memorial Hospital, health care; and M&Ms Survivors, business/miscellaneous.