Number one – times two

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

AULANDER – It wasn’t really raining outside the Aulander Community Building here Tuesday night. That moisture was actually tears of joy falling from the heavens, coming from the many brave victims of cancer – their lives cut short by this deadly disease.

Joy came by way of news shared by the American Cancer Society that the 2003 Bertie County Relay for Life earned not one, but two first place awards on the national level. The event, on the heels of yet another successful year where over $188,000 was raised for the battle against cancer, was hailed as tops in the nation in per capita fund raising. In addition, Bertie County was honored with the Heart of the Relay National Diversity Award.

This marks the third time in the 10-year history of the Bertie County Relay for Life has been recognized as number one nationally in per capita funds. The event previously earned that prestigious honor in 2000 and again in 2001. Prior to that, the Bertie Relay was ranked in the top-10 nationally for money raised in their size division from 1996-99 and 2002.

&uot;I find it only fitting that the Bertie Relay for Life earned a number one ranking nationally in per capita fund raising in the same year that they celebrated their 10th anniversary in aiding us in finding a cure for cancer,&uot; said Pam Stallings of the American Cancer Society. &uot;It was also fitting that this honor came in the same year that the Bertie Relay broke the million-dollar barrier in total funds raised.&uot;

While the lofty national ranking was pleasing to Bobbi Parker, the Bertie Relay for Life Chairman was happier with the fact that the countywide effort behind this annual event was signaled out for the Diversity Award.

&uot;We picked-up the cause 10 years ago with an idea of getting everyone involved here in Bertie County – people of all races, ages and religions,&uot; stressed Parker. &uot;Ten years later, that idea has come full circle with a national award for diversity. We couldn’t have asked for anything better than this as it backs up our promise that we would make each and every effort to ensure that our entire community takes up the fight against cancer.&uot;

There was even more good news shared during Tuesday night’s &uot;End of the Year&uot; celebration for the Bertie event. Stallings recognized John F. Smith Sr., Superintendent of Bertie County Public Schools, with the National Impact Award. Smith is a driving force behind the school system’s ever-growing involvement with Relay for Life. Smith was also presented with the 2003Bertie Relay Impact Award.

&uot;If anyone wants to know how to run a successful Relay with involvement from your public school system, then come to Bertie County, we’ll show you how its done,&uot; noted Parker.

In accepting his awards, Smith commented, &uot;It’s very important that we continue to support this effort. This is a community wide event in which we can participate. What we do as a school system to support Relay for Life comes straight from the heart. I will continue to do my best in support of Relay activities and I will encourage others to do so as well.&uot;

As is customary at the End of Year Celebration, Relay for Life officials handed out numerous awards for those that made the 2003 Bertie event such an overwhelming success. Those awards are as follows:

Life Inspiration Awards – Mrs. Willie Bazemore, Teresa Adams, Don Daniel, Christine Dudley, Jimmy Lassiter and Linda Wynn.

Sword of Hope Award – Jeanette White.

Making Strides Award – Askewville Elementary School.

Chain of Hope Award – Aulander Elementary School.

Chain of Hope Per Capita Award – J.P. Law Elementary School.

#1 Church Team – Ross Baptist Church.

Pack the Track Award – Mrs. Willie Bazemore.

Light up the Night Award – presented in memory to the late Beth Cayton.

All-Star Team Awards (Bronze level: $150-$249 raised per member) – Aulander First Baptist, Cedar Landing Baptist, C.G. White Middle School, Mt. Ararat Baptist, Real Wireless, Riverside Baptist, Southwestern Middle School, St. Paul Baptist and Wrangler.

All-Star Team Awards (Silver level: $250-$399 per member) – Bertie Ambulance Service, Bertie County Rural Health, Bertie High School, Capehart Baptist, Green’s Cross Baptist, Merry Hill Baptist, Perdue, Sandy Branch Baptist, Town of Aulander, West Bertie Elementary and Windsor Elementary.

All-Star Team Awards (Gold level: $400-$549 per member) – Askewville Elementary, Colerain Elementary and Piney Woods Chapel Baptist.

All-Star Team Awards (Purple level: $550-$699 per member) – Bertie Memorial Hospital, J.P. Law Elementary and Ross Baptist.

All-Star Team Awards (Premier level: $700 and over per member) – Bertie County Board of Education ($23,178.28 raised), Bertie County Department of Social Services ($17,306.07) and Bertie County Health Department ($9,567.10).

Decade of Commitment Awards (presented to teams that have participated in the Bertie Relay for Life every year since 1994) – Aulander Elementary, Bertie High School, Mt. Olive Baptist, Southwestern Middle School and the Town of Aulander.

Special Recognition Awards: Debbie Howard, Gay Feher, Thurman Morris and the Town of Windsor.

The Bertie County Relay for Life will start its second decade of cancer survivorship during a Jan. 23, 2004 meeting at Southwestern Middle School. &uot;Early-Bird&uot; registration ($5 per team member) is already underway. That early sign-up period ends Jan. 23. After that, team members must each pay a $10 sign-up fee.