Bertie Relay close to goal

Published 1:54 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

AULANDER – It was a time of reflection and celebration.

Friday and Saturday, more than 1,000 people gathered at the Aulander Fitness Trail to help battle the dreaded disease cancer. The 16th annual Bertie Relay for Life was a success in every way, according to co-chairman G. Fisher Mitchell.

“I stated before the event I thought it would be one of the best ever and it turned out to be exactly that,” Mitchell said. “Participation was great and money was great.”

All totaled, the Bertie County Chapter of the American Cancer Society has raised $153,020.67 as of the close of Relay for Life. There is an additional $35,000 outstanding in donations and corporate sponsorships.

“When you look at what we’ve already collected and add what is going to come in, you can see we will have surpassed our goal of $175,000,” Mitchell said. “We’re very excited about that.”

The event began with the recognition of survivors, something that is always a time of celebration of those who have or are still battling cancer. Willie G. Bazemore spoke during the opening ceremony, encouraging those there to continue their fight.

“It’s another day on the journey and I’m glad about it,” she told the crowd.

After Bazemore spoke, survivors made the first lap to open Relay for Life during its second year in Aulander.

“The opening ceremony is always special because you’re dealing with survivors,” Mitchell said. “Any time you deal with survivors, it is touching.”

The co-chairman said he was particularly pleased because of the growing number of survivors that attend Relay for Life.

“When you’ve been working with Relay for a long time, you can see the number of survivors increase,” he said. “That means research is advancing and more people are living that have been touched by cancer than 15 years ago.”

Another important part of Relay for Life is the luminary ceremony which happened on Friday evening. During that time all events at Relay for Life cease as participants honor the memory of those who lost their battle to cancer and encourage those who are still fighting.

“The luminary ceremony is very touching,” Mitchell said. “When you turn out the lights and light those candles, it is always a special time at Relay for Life. To me, it is probably the most touching part of it.”

The event featured a variety of awards that were handed out. The award for the most money raised by a team went to Perdue with $57,668 while Bertie Health Department finished second and Bertie Memorial came in third.

JoAnn Jordan, another co-chair of the event, was recognized as the person who raised the most money as she brought in $10,000 on her own.

The Willie G. Bazemore Pack the Track Award for most survivors registered by a team went to Center Grove Baptist Church while the Beth Cayton Light Up the Night Award for most luminaries sold by a team went to the Town of Aulander.

Other awards were:

Best Team Spirit: Pink Ladies;

Best Team Theme: Bracy Bunch – We are Monkeying Around for a Cure (1st), Bertie Memorial Hospital – Sowing Seeds for a Cure (2nd) and Enchanted Kreationz – Kruzin’ for a Cure (3rd);

Best Tent Decoration: Bertie Memorial Hospital (1st), Colerain Elementary School (2nd) and Pink Ladies (3rd);

Best T-Shirt: Pink Ladies (1st), Colerain Elementary (2nd) and Bertie Health Department (3rd);

Most Laps Walked by a Team: Pink Ladies;

Most Laps Walked by Individual: Carolyn Rankins of Conocanary Baptist Church;

Golden Pillowcase Award (most who spent the night) – Pink Ladies; and

Last Tent Standing (most for closing ceremony) – Town of Aulander.

While still enjoying the success of this year, Mitchell said work has already begun for next year.

“This is now a 12-month event,” he said. “We used to pack up after the Relay for a while, but we can’t do that anymore.

“We started working on Saturday for next year,” he added. “That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. We have to stay busy.”