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ACS fundraiser draws large, enthusiastic crowd

Last Friday night, hundreds of folks of all ages turned out at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds in Greenville for a carnival with a special twist.

It was &uot;care-nival time&uot; and the fun and games were for a very special cause—the continued fight against cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life in Butler County kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday, winding down in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday.

Members of 30 teams representing schools, churches, organizations and businesses throughout the county started arriving on Friday morning to set up tents and begin decorating their sites for the annual event.

Spirited teams

W.O. Parmer Elementary School’s team spent several hours trimming their rainbow-striped ‘big top’ tent.

All their hard work paid off when the school’s charming &uot;Balloon Booth&uot; took honors that night as ‘Most Original Campsite’ at Relay.

The enthusiastic Wal-Mart team earned enough Relay Bucks for their fundraisers, participation in contests and attendance at meetings to walk away with the

&uot;Spirit of Relay&uot; trophy for 2003.

They also received recognition for top per capita fundraising. The Pioneer Electric/Acme team, Relay For Life’s event sponsor, took home the award for top fundraising team.

To honor and remember

Survivors made a triumphant walk around the track at 7 p.m. to the sounds of applause. The sight of their smiling faces and fists pumping in the air reminded all those present that cancer can be beaten.

At 9 p.m., a moving luminaria service was held with stirring patriotic and inspirational music provided by the group ‘Highest Praise’ of First United Methodist Church of Greenville.

All activity ceased, the track was cleared and lights were dimmed as survivors Daniel Robinson and Timothy Pierce carried an official Olympic torch around the track.

As Allen Stephenson of First Baptist Church of Georgiana and Devereau Riddlebarger of First United Methodist Church of Georgiana read the roll call of names of those who have fallen victim to cancer, hundreds of luminarias glowed in the darkness.

Many listened attentively to hear the names of friends and loved ones. The ceremony ended with all team members and attendees making a solemn, silent lap around the track.

More than a few tears were shed along the way.

&uot;That was just beautiful…really beautiful,&uot; murmured attendee Liz Johnston, who lost her husband to cancer four years ago.

&uot;I thought the service went really well.

Our luminaria numbers were up this year, too… we totaled over $4,200,&uot; noted Ethelyn Watson, luminaria chairperson for 2003.

&uot;Celebrate!&uot;

In a new twist to the event, all sort of activities and concessions from a duck pond and a ‘strong man’ game to the ‘Snack Shack’ and ‘needle in the haystack’ were found at a number of the tents.

Hair and face painting were also among children’s activities.

Emcee Ralph Stacy and deejay Frank Phelps kept the games and contests running smoothly and the upbeat music playing through the night.

Hula hoop, dance, ski walk, tug of war contests and karaoke kept things hopping.

As usual, the &uot;Miss Relay&uot; womanless beauty pageant drew lots of attention. This year, it also earned the ACS over $400 in additional donations.

Stacy sent the three finalists—Ty Langston of Fort Dale Academy, Cornelius Bradley of Greenville High School and Tom McIntyre of Pioneer Electric—into the crowd with paper bags and a mission.

Each was challenged to garner as many dollars as possible from the crowd in five minutes.

Langston (absolutely stunning in a striking purple and zebra print ensemble) brought back an impressive total of more than $200, earning the crown and coveted title of ‘Miss Relay 2003.’

&uot;Top achievers&uot;

The high school student wasn’t the only youth to raise big bucks for the event.

Jessica Johnson of Greenville High School raised an amazing $1300, making her both top individual fundraiser and top youth fundraiser.

In second place was Tara Johnson of Camellia City Christian Academy, who raised $300.

The top two fundraising schools were Greenville High and Greenville Middle School.

Greenville High was also the top team with 0-15 members, with Georgiana’s RL Austin Elementary coming in second.

Breed Technologies took third place honors.

For teams of 16-30 members, Wal-Mart took first place, Greenville Middle School, second place, and People’s Bank earned a third place position.

&uot;We are really pleased at all the young people who turned out for Relay this year, especially those who were on teams…I think they did a great job,&uot; said Teams Chair Luci McGowin.

&uot;A great success&uot;

With donations still coming in, total figures on monies raised by this year’s Relay are not ready yet, noted Joan Reynolds, ACS Chair for Butler County.

&uot;Unfortunately, we did lose one of our top teams this year [IP]. Overall, the number of teams was down.

However, the good news is we are up in sponsorships, donations and luminarias this year.

We appreciate all the people and businesses that supported this event,&uot; she said.

&uot;We had a great, great turnout.

People had a lot of fun and we raised a lot of money.

This was certainly a successful event,&uot; Reynolds added.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the American Cancer Society should contact Juanita Poole at 382-3773.

You may also mail your donations to American Cancer Society c/o Juanita Poole, 310 N College St. Greenville, AL 36037.