“Every relayer has one thing- a story…” Trevor Wynn began his speech at the opening of last Friday night’s Relay for Life. He talked about losing his grandmother and then his father. When he researched this deadly disease, he found that the survival rate around that time was 67 percent. He wanted to do more to help with the cause. Shortly after his father lost his fight to cancer, he got involved with Relay for Life through Ellen Poll. “I relay for my dad, and that’s my relay story.”
Mayor Jim Egbert joined the community with a few words at the opening ceremony. “Each year this event grows larger,” the mayor acknowledged. The American Cancer Society Relay is held around the world and over 3.5 million people participate. The mayor continued, “Millions of lives have been saved as a result including those that will make the (survivors) lap around the track.”
The first lap around the track was taken by adults and children who have battled cancer and their caregivers. The Survivors lap is an emotional time for many. This is a celebration of all those who have won the fight against cancer or are still able to battle. Happiness and gratitude are felt by many for the survivors. Some may think about the long road that brought them there. For some it can be a sad time remembering those who they wish could still be there but have lost the fight. All of these emotions drive those who participate to try harder to find a cure.
“Relay for Life is a community event,” Tara Hammer event chair described. There is sometimes a misconception that it is a race. Those who are new to Relay for Life might be surprised to see very few if any people running. Very seldom through the event was anyone seen running. Most walked along visiting with people they came with, chatting with friends and neighbors they ran into, or meeting new people who share this event in common. There is no start or finish and nobody keeps track of how many laps are walked or how fast anyone goes. It is simply a time to come together as a community and work on a common goal- to raise money to fight against cancer. The funds are used for research and for giving care to those who have cancer.
Entertainment was held throughout the night with games, Zumba, and even several live bands. Unfortunately at the peak of fundraising time, during dinner and the silent auction, a major down pour covered the event in rain. Quick action by the committee and other volunteers kept the silent auction, as well as other important items from getting wet. The event was temporarily moved to the Trojan Century center where many Morgan residents were able to get their first look at the new building.
The rain did send many home, but as the skies cleared and the search light took its place in the sky, many returned for the Luminaria ceremony. Luminaria bags were sold as part of the fundraising before the event to honor loved ones who have passed away from cancer or are fighting the disease. LED candles were placed in them and the stadium lights were turned off. An amazing program was put together for the hundreds still in attendance.
Mr. Relay may bring some strange looks but it also brings in a lot of money. This year $761.95 was raised to benefit Relay for Life. Ten men and a little boy dressed in jean shorts, curlers and wigs, revealing tops, dresses and more to participate in the Mr. Relay competition. Each team is asked to have one male “volunteer” to participate. The first place prize went to “Katie” who raised $137 for the “Valiant Purple Hearts” team. “Katie,” Kade Brown, was the only Mr. Relay with a body guard. “Katie” was escorted by “Cyrus,” Lydia Davis. Kade had to be talked into participating. He found it difficult to find women’s clothing to fit his 6’5” frame and “gluing on the nails was a little weird,” but he was very pleased with his effectiveness at raising a lot of money for the cause. “Daisy Duke” better known as Aaron Gold, placed second in an outfit that inspired his name. He raised $102 in the half hour event for his team “TNT.” “He just kind of decided to do it,” Aaron’s wife, Kara, said explaining one of their nephews usually fills the spot. “He kind of got into it.” She added with a laugh that most onlookers would argue that is a major understatement. The third place winner, Brody Mecham, aka “Rainbow Brite,” only trailed by a few dollars collecting $100 for the 1st Bank team. “Rainbow Brite” trekked the track with his children following thinking it was fun to have their dad participate. Brody wasn’t the only family member to don female attire. He asked for donations with his dad, who brought in a huge purse full of cash himself. All of the males that participated were great sports and brought in a lot of money and made the event fun.
All the teams worked really hard on their booths for the night. They sold items, asked for donations or sponsorships and offered games and treats to kids. At the end of the event, total amounts raised are tallied and top teams and individuals are announced. “Marie’s Messengers of Hope” was the top contributing team with $11,020, second place went to team “TNT” with $8,050 and Browning rounded out the top three with $5,306. All of the top three teams are long-time supporters of Relay and have a tradition of generosity and great involvement.
The top three individual participants were from the first place team, “Marie’s Messengers of Hope.” Tara Hammer was first place with $3,531. The second highest contributor was Debby Wilkinson who raised $1,181 and RaVonna McQuiddy brought in $781. These are huge totals for both the individuals and teams. Hopefully that tradition of amazing fundraising will continue into the future.