Thousands attend Relay for Life
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 17, 2014 10:37 PM
Tanya Blount, a 22 year ovarian cancer survivor, wipes a tear from her eye as she holds the banner to lead the Relay for Life survivors walk Friday at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. She said "This is tough" as she remembers friends and family that have lost their battle with cancer throughout the years.
Three hundred luminarias.
More than 12,000 visitors.
And while the number everybody wants to know -- just how much Wayne County's annual Relay for Life raised -- is not yet available, organizers of the 2014 event are calling the gathering an overwhelming success.
Thousands of local residents converged on the county fairgrounds Friday evening and Saturday morning to defy, in one voice, a disease that has taken its toll on many of those who showed up to denounce it.
And Relay chairman Brenda Robinson said the community showed, again, just why "Wayne County rocks."
"We still had people lined up in the road coming in at 8 p.m.," she said.
Many, though, arrived much earlier.
Like members of the teams that offered games, food and keepsakes to those who turned out.
"There's not a lot of empty space out here," Ms. Robinson said. "We've had some great campsites out here."
Among the winners were T.A. Loving -- for its superhero theme -- Jackson and Sons' haunted house and the M&Ms who brought boxing to Relay.
The crowd won, too -- scarfing down everything from hamburgers, hot dogs and steak sandwiches to barbecue beef sandwiches, turkey legs and grilled pork tenderloins.
But in the end, as it always does, the night belonged to the people wearing purple shirts -- the survivors.
Ms. Robinson said that last year there were 360 who participated in Relay -- a number that grew, at this year's event, to 400.
"That number grows each year," Ms. Robinson said. "We have tried to reach out to our survivors and get them all registered for the Relay."
Most of them walked the Survivors' Lap, but some had to be pushed in wheelchairs.
The second lap was taken by the caregivers.
"The Caregivers' Walk is something we've tried to do in past years, but that just didn't work out," Ms. Robinson said. "This year, we made it a point to make sure it worked out.
"We did it to honor our caregivers as well as our cancer survivors. The caregivers are a big support system for the survivors. A lot of times, the survivors like to see their caregivers honored in some way and we wanted to honor them, too, for what they do.
"The atmosphere is awesome. Everybody's having a great time -- enjoying the food and the entertainment. This is a big celebration. We celebrate our survivors out here. There's nothing sad about this event at all. It's very lively."
The goal of Relay is to raise money for cancer research.
"If we don't raise the money for cancer research, we will go backward in cancer treatment," Ms. Robinson said. "No one else does cancer research fundraising like this. Relay is No. 2 to the federal government in providing money for cancer research.
"If we don't raise the money, then there will cease to be any new medicines. Many people today are surviving cancer because of the money we raise. The money that's raised out here tonight will be saving lives tomorrow around the world, not just in Wayne County."
Wayne County's Relay for Life is number one in the state for money raised and number 24 in the world out of 5,000 Relays.
"We really appreciate all the hard work from the Relay committee, team captains and the participants and we appreciate all the support we get from the Wayne County community."