Attendees at Jefferson County’s 2014 Annual Relay for Life event, held Friday at Ridgway Christian High School, exemplified the courage and resilience of cancer survivors, their caretakers and family members as well as loved ones lost to cancer.
The major fundraising event supports efforts to save lives from cancer and inspires all to stand firm in the fight. Several organizations were present to offer support and raise funds. Radio Station 104.5 KTRN’s Billy Coble served as DJ.
After the group Heavenly Harmony opened with the National Anthem, cancer survivors took the first lap around as the song Eye of the Tiger played in the background. Caregivers joined in on the second lap to the song I’ll Stand By You. Other laps were taken throughout the event.
Laughter, hugs and dancing could be seen everywhere as high-spirited attendees enjoyed a long list of fun-filled activities for all ages.
Paulette Greene, 65, is a five-year breast cancer survivor and was one of the regulars celebrating on the dance floor.
“It’s just that I am alive, and God has blessed me and why not have all the fun you can have,” she said as she threw her hands high in the air.
Kelli Peckham of White Hall, a nurse at Arkansas Cancer Institute, said she sees this kind of attitude all the time and is amazed by it.
“Working in this position has been the most rewarding and and inspiring thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “The patients, even when they are the sickest, have the best attitude, the most positive outlook.”
Peckham said the event is special because of the strength she sees in those battling the disease, but it also has a more personal significance.
“My father died of pancreatic cancer on his 73rd birthday,” she said. “I know God had me where I am for a reason.”
Between laps, friends and family headed for the snack tables to enjoy hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks.
Some of the activities for the evening included a scavenger hunt, a hula dance contest, a hula hoop contest, a limbo contest, a photo booth, face painting and jail for bail. Go fish and fish bowl games were set up especially for the younger children.
A luminary service was scheduled for later in the evening to remember deceased loved ones. A poem in their honor was read:
“Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope, dissolve faith. It cannot destroy peace, kill friendship. It cannot suppress memories silence courage. It cannot invade the soul, steal eternal life. It cannot conquer the spirit.”
A memory lap followed the poem.
The event is open to the community is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Jefferson County Relay for Life. For more information visit www.relayforlife.org/jeffersonar or call Leslie Humphrey at 870-850-0031.