Despite the tighter economy, Relay for Life teams were able to raise $37,650.68 help find a cure for cancer during the 24-hour event, June 5-6, at the Richmond High School track.
After opening ceremonies, the event got underway with the Survivor Walk, many cheered for those individuals. As they reached the halfway mark, their caregivers joined them for support.
“I am inspired by the survivors who take that first lap of the evening,” said Publicity Chair Sherry Allen. “It is an exciting night, as our community gathers together with music, food, and fun activities, but most important is the Luminaria Ceremony.”
Allen said there were over 1,000 luminaria bags around the track. Luminaria Chair Stacey Cox said this is the highest number the relay has had in its 11 years in Ray County. The Millville 4-H Club helped put sand and candles in each luminaria and set them out by hand around the track.
“We used to do it by driving,” said Cox. “But, with the new track, we have to do it all by hand. The kids did a great job.”
As the time for the Luminaria Ceremony approached, a description of the ceremony was given and the Millville 4-H lit each candle. As the names were read, tunes such as “I Can Only Imagine,” and “Candle in the Wind” played in the background.
Team Recruitment Chair Lorna Oliphant described the spirit of the event:
“Our luminaria ceremony consisted of a few poems and songs of faith and hope for the survivor. We asked everyone to go to the bleachers and sit there throughout the ceremony, and to remain quiet out of respect,” she said. “The lights were turned off and the only lights on were the candles in the luminaria bags, and the lights in the word HOPE which was spelled out on the football field. The meaning of HOPE was given, and all of the names of those on the luminaria bags were read. Then, everyone walked the track in silence, out of respect for those whose names were on the bags.”
“We came back onto the track – to remember and celebrate that person’s life,” said Cox. “Each bag has a name, is a person, and they have a story. The bags glow throughout the night for a vision of a cancer-free future.”
“In the darkness, as the lights from the luminaries glow, and the names are read of those who have lost their battle with cancer, and those who continue to fight, it is still very emotional for me,” said Allen, who lost her mother and a friend to cancer. “We show our support to all the survivors by being there and raising money for cancer research. I pray that we will see a world without cancer in my lifetime.”
Cox said that Kyle Foster of Hardin sang, “The Lord’s Prayer” and that it was a very moving part of the service. The ceremony was concluded with Donna Dana reading Romans 15:13.
Online Chair Meredith Burgess shared her feelings about being a part of Relay:
“Relay, to me, is a chance for our community to fight back against cancer, to celebrate those who are fighting the disease, and to remember those who have lost their battle. I have lost a very beloved grandmother, aunts, other family members, and many friends to the dreaded disease, not to mention the many who are fighting the disease now,” she said. “By participating in Relay, I feel as if I’m doing something to help in the fight against cancer. Even if it is a little thing, it is something I can do locally to help out the greater cause.”
Twenty-two teams registered for the Relay. Three teams reached the Bronze recognition, raising over $1,500. Christian Chapel raised $2,355 (Annette Proffitt team captain), From the Heart raised $1,775 (Lorna Oliphant team captain) and Orrick Baptist Church raised $1,632 (Sherry Allen team captain).
Three teams were honored with the Silver recognition, raising over $3,000 for the American Cancer Society. United Christian Presbyterian Church raised $4,332 (Lana Buhrmeister team captain), United Methodist Church raised $3,821 (Renee Claire, Jay Hicks team captains) and Ray County Memorial Hospital raised $3,425 (Susie Holt team captain).
Other awards given were: Top Fundraiser – Lana Buhrmeister ($2,636); Best Campsite – Chapel Challengers (Christian Chapel); Raised Most Money – United Christian Presbyterian Church/Survivor Island; Most Spirited Team Captain – Susie Holt; Most Spirited Team – Ray County Memorial Hospital.