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Bertie Relay sweeps top honors

AULANDER – Bertie County has been named Number One in the nation in per capita donations for the 15,000-19,999 population category in American Cancer Society’s 2004 Relay for Life and Number One in the Southern Atlantic Division Region 4 for all population categories.

A happy Bobbie Parker of Aulander, who co-chairs the event with JoAnn Jordan, accepted the announcement and trophy from ACS’s Community Manager Ginger Griffin here October 28 at an annual celebration honoring Relay for Life volunteers. The celebration was held at Aulander Community Building. A team led by Thurman Morris was in charge of decorations and a pig pickin’ with all the trimmings for about 75 people.

Parker and Jordan thanked people who work year-round to consistently make Bertie one of the most successful counties in the nation in raising money to fight cancer. This year Bertie County raised $183,930 or $9.27 per capita. Parker says her target goal for the county is $10 per capita.

Relay for Life began in 1985 when one California man walked for 24 hours and raised a few thousand dollars. In the 20 years since, the event has raised more than $1 billion in 4,100 communities.

Parker presented special awards went to dozens of people. Debbie Howard was recipient of the Sword of Hope Award, which honors people who exemplify the Relay for Life spirit. Howard has worked with Relay for years, serves on the planning committee and is in charge of such events as the survivors’ reception when the annual gathering is held at Bertie High School in May.

Nominees for the Life Inspiration Award were Mary N. Jones, Belva Cherry, Robert Carter, Thomas Dudley, Wendell Evans, Joel Everett, Mary Mardre, Carolyn Bazemore, Coella Tate and Margaret Cherry.

Relay for Life teams recognized for highest percentages of donation increase in 2004 were C. G. White Middle School, with 49 percent increase over last year; Aulander Elementary School, 52 percent; Mount Olive Baptist Church, 80 percent; West Bertie Elementary School, 118 percent; and Askewville Elementary School, 130 percent.

Top 10 teams in money raised were Piney Woods Chapel Baptist Church, $6,795; Askewville Elementary School, $7,578; Center Grove Baptist Church, $8,055; Bertie County Health Department and Home Health, $8,683; Perdue Farms, $8,824; West Bertie Elementary School, $9,654; Bertie Memorial Hospital, $10,400; Bertie County Department of Social Services; $11,069; Ross Baptist Church, $11,422; and Bertie County Board of Education, $23,396.

Parker praised Bertie Superintendent of Schools John F. Smith and said Relay for Life could never do so well in Bertie County without the support of the Board of Education, its schools and administration. Smith received several awards and Griffin said Bertie is the Outstanding Relay for Life School District.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.