H-G Relay for Life earns national recognition

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 1, 2007

WILMINGTON – Volunteers from Hertford and Gates counties recently attended the American Cancer Society’s 2006 Relay University in Wilmington where they accepted the National Top Ten Award for being seventh in the nation in money raised per capita in their population category on behalf of the Relay For Life of Hertford-Gates County.

Local volunteers attending included Bo Pittman, Mae Woodard, Mary Lynn Rawls, Karen Odom, Ginny Cowper and Artie Johnson.

The theme of the 2006 Relay University was &uot;A Celebration with the Stars&uot; – Weekend to Remember.

&uot;Congratulations to the volunteers, participants and sponsors of the Relay For Life of Hertford-Gates County for winning this award,&uot; said Mary Nesbitt, Vice President, Relay For Life, for the South Atlantic Division. &uot;Without the dedication of our local communities and the successful events they perform, the American Cancer Society could not support local organizations that provide valuable programs and services in the fight against cancer. We value all of our Relay volunteers and truly appreciate their outstanding efforts.&uot;

The two-day conference recognized achievement for outstanding 2006 Relay For Life events and offered participants tools and information to increase the success of their events. Volunteer-led panel discussions, breakout sessions and roundtable discussions helped volunteers learn new ideas. In addition, volunteers learned the importance of integrating the Society’s mission through Relay For life.

Ten Relay University events were held in the Division this year with a total of 3,000 volunteers attending.

In 2006, 574 Relay For Life events were held throughout the South Atlantic Division, which consists of Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. These events have raised a total of $69 million to support cancer research, education, programs and services.

Hertford-Gates County reached a milestone, toping the million-dollar mark in total money raised since it was started in 2000. Now in it’s seventh year, a total net income of $212,799 was raised which was $6.44 per capita.

“Achieving number seven in the nation is something our community should be very proud of,” said Wanda Lassiter, Relay For Life of Hertford – Gates 2007 Event Chair.

Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship. The funds raised from the events support the American Cancer Society’s mission to eliminate cancer through research, prevention and early detection programs. Relay represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day, cancer will be eliminated.

During the event, teams gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running around a track.

Participants camp out around the track and when they aren’t taking their turn on the track, enjoy a variety of entertainment and team activities. Teams consist of 10 to 15 individuals representing businesses, churches, schools, neighborhoods, families and other community groups.

Each Relay For Life begins by honoring cancer survivors as they make the event’s first lap, with other participants from the community cheering them on. A luminaria service takes place just after dark at every Relay event. Candles lit in the luminaria bags represent cancer survivors or those who have lost their battle to cancer. At this emotional moment during the event, activities cease and participants pause to reflect on and celebrate their loved ones. The candles burning throughout the night light the way and serve as reminders of the significance of participants’ contributions.

Relay For Life is not only a fundraiser; it also brings awareness to the community about the advances in cancer research, prevention and detection.

Many of the participants are cancer survivors and their involvement is proof of the progress that has been made not only in cancer cure rates, but also in the quality of life following cancer treatment.

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

For more information about cancer or about Relay For Life of Hertford-Gates call Wanda Lassiter at 287-7484 or visit www.acsevents.org/hertfordgates .