Unseasonably cool temperatures did not deter cancer survivors and their supporters in Friday night’s Jefferson County Relay for Life.
A large crowd turned out at Hestand Stadium for the annual event.
The relay, which is normally held outdoors, was moved inside because of the weather.
Mayor Debe Hollingsworth kicked off the event by reading a proclamation that declared Friday Relay for Life Day in the city of Pine Bluff. Boy Scout Troop 224 was on hand to present the colors and lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Singing group Heavenly Harmony performed a melodic rendition of the National Anthem.
The crowd erupted in applause as the relay began with cancer survivors being called to the floor to make the first lap, and their caregivers soon joined them. Members from each team began their walk and the relay was slated to continue until midnight. Shannon Morgan, one of the directors for the event, said she was very excited to see the turn out. She expected 200 or more people to attend throughout the evening.
The Relay was truly a family event, with a variety of sights and activities to take in Teams surrounded the perimeter with booths full of food and desserts for purchase. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. There were games to play and a big celebrity, Mickey Mouse, was seen consorting with children and adults. Entertainment was provided by the Holcomb Brothers, the Diamond Line Dancers and Glen Mixon with Southern Gospel among others. Billy Coble from Pine Bluff’s K-Train radio station kept the music flowing as the participants walked and danced their way around the room.
Guest of honor at this year’s relay was 11-year-old Faith Puddephatt, a survivor of bone cancer. Diagnosed at 22 months, Faith underwent multiple surgeries, body casts, braces, and walkers. She says she has “adjusted to being an amputee. This year I am 8 years cancer free! I love to dance, so this year I want to nickname the relay Dancing in the Light of the Lord!”
Faith has been to the Relay for Life several times, but this was her first time as the honoree. Definitely the life of the party, Faith exuded a glowing spirit that kept everyone moving.
One of the most magnificent sights of the event was the ceremony where more than 500 luminarias were lit in memory or in honor of those that have or have had cancer.
“It is a way to remember those we’ve lost and honor those who are still fighting the battle with cancer,” Morgan said.
The fundraiser is held annually to benefit the American Cancer Society, which helps fund the fight against cancer and raise awareness within the community.