Relay for Life raises $61,000
Published 2:24 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2016
On a gloriously beautiful May evening, people of all ages gathered at the Butler County Fairgrounds for an event that has become a beloved tradition.
They came to celebrate, to remember and to fight back. And in the end, they also raised $61,000 for the cause they championed.
A total of 19 teams had worked over the past several months to raise funds for the Butler County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, culminating in Friday night’s Relay For Life. Its colorful theme, “Paint Your World Purple,” was evident with campsites encouraging participants to “Paint Greenville Purple” and to let “Purple Rain” wash away the pain of cancer.
Relay 2016 was certainly a family-friendly event. In addition to the ever-popular hula-hoop competition (in which the younger set clearly proved their superiority over adults like David Norrell, Tom Payne and Rebecca Reynolds) and the Auburn-Alabama tug of war (The Tide rolled for that), kids enjoyed games set up in the center of the field. Jase Butts and Adalynn Lett were spotted playing flamingo toss while Brittan Bennett and her friends carefully studied the giant Jenga to determine that next move.
The kids’ activities were one of the additions new Relay Chairperson Carol Baker and the board added this year. Taking on the challenge of chairing the event for the first time was a daunting task, but Baker knew she had people in place to help make it happen.
“My biggest challenge was to not put pressure on myself,” Baker said. “This is a wonderful community event that brings everyone together. With an awesome Relay board that shares the same passion for Relay and our community that supports it, well, that is what can bring and make Relay For Life a successful event.”
The First United Methodist Church Relay team captured the Spirit of Relay for 2016, with the Alacare Home Health and Hospice earning the Best Camp Site Award and Harley Angels taking Top Fundraising Team.
Stacey Edwards and Jana Ealum served as co-emcees Friday night, overseeing competitions such as the very popular cake walk and drawings for door prizes. Galahad Smith kept the high-energy tunes playing as team members kept circling the track. A generous spread of food and a place for folks like longtime cancer survivors Betty Foster and Bennie Payne to rest could be found beneath the big survivors’ tent. Here, Joann Mathews and members of Comfort Care’s Relay team assisted with food and service while Hardee’s provided a beverage station.
Two of the cancer survivors participating in this year’s Relay were extra special to Baker.
“My daddy, Paul Hatcher, who is a three-time cancer survivor, and my cousin Clyde Hatcher, who is currently undergoing treatment, drove all the way from Maryville, Tennessee to be a part of this Relay,” Baker said.
For Baker, as for many who annually participate in and support the fundraiser, cancer has hit too close to home.
“I lost a best friend, Kristy House McPhaul, to this beast and my promise to her was that I would honor her memory and fight this fight against cancer,” said Baker. “There are over 100 different types of cancer and it’s projected that one in three of us will be diagnosed at some point in our lives.”
Seeing the track glowing from the lights of the many Luminarias honoring and remembering loved ones struck by cancer warms Baker’s heart, she says.
“I Relay because I can. And the thing I love most about Relay is seeing the community come together for a worthy cause,” she said.