• 70°

Relay for Life shatters goal

MURFREESBORO – There was one remaining barrier to break in what was already a record-setting year for the 2010 Hertford-Gates Relay for Life.

With the sun now warming what began as a cool, wet Saturday morning, Evelyn Rawls took the microphone and revealed even brighter news, announcing that this 10th annual battle against cancer had raised $238,143.25.

This year’s financial goal was $232,000.

“I knew we had $209,000 going in to the weekend, but the money was coming in slow after that and I had this feeling we wouldn’t make our goal,” said 2010 Relay Committee Co-Chair Bonnie Langdale. “When Evelyn Ann (Rawls) made the announcement, I was shocked.”

Langdale continued, “There are no words to describe the efforts of our teams, our sponsors and the communities that support Relay here in Hertford-Gates. All I can say is that when you put good folks together, all working towards a common goal, the possibilities are endless.”

Rochelle Harrell, the other half of the Committee Co-Chair, said she was amazed at the amount of money raised.

“It just goes to show you what small communities like ours here in Hertford and Gates counties can do when they band together,” Harrell noted. “People who live in bigger areas think we don’t have a lot to offer here, but just look at what we can do. Whether or not we meet our goal, we’re still on a path to help find a cure and every penny helps that effort.”

The monetary goal wasn’t the only item to be exceeded in this year’s Relay.

The 2010 event established records for the number of teams (61) and participants (1,113 pre-registered).

It also exceeded pre-set goals for the number of survivors (329; goal was 311); money generated through corporate sponsorships ($79,000; the goal was $58,000); and the sale of luminaries ($32,242; the goal was $23,000).

Additionally, this year’s donations pushed the 10-year total to over $2 million with all funds benefitting the American Cancer Society.

If there was a dark cloud to the 2010 Relay, it came prior to the start of the event with the death of Anna Deloatch. She served as Chair of Corporate Sponsorship, but was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on April 1 and lost her battle with the disease 20 days later. Relay officials set-up a memorial for Deloatch at the main stage.

“This is the grim reality of cancer,” Langdale said. “It reminds us all of what we’re trying to do with Relay for Life.”

“We wanted to honor her work with Relay,” Harrell stated. “Before her death she knew that we had exceeded our goal for corporate sponsorship. She was a dedicated volunteer that we will greatly miss.”

Friday’s opening ceremonies took place before a record crowd as Squirrel Park on the campus of Chowan University was packed with Relay supporters. After they watched two members of Murfreesboro Cub Scout Pack 125 post the colors while Michelle Leggett, the mother of a cancer victim, gave a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, the crowd settled in to hear remarks from Wendy Perdue, Marketing Development Director of the North Carolina branch of the American Cancer Society.

The crowd then lined the park’s walkway and cheered as cancer survivors walked the traditional first lap.

The caregivers then walked their first lap followed by the official introduction and ceremonial first lap of the 61 teams.

Shortly past 9 p.m. on Friday, the noisy crowd fell silent as the annual luminary ceremony got underway. There, names of cancer survivors and victims were shown on a big screen at the main stage. In the background, nearly 3,000 luminary bags plus several torches honoring or memorializing cancer patients lined the walkway and produced a soft, comforting glow that later lit the way for those taking part in the event.

Despite the rain’s arrival in the early morning hours of Saturday, the spirit of those involved in Relay for Life was never dampened.

An awards ceremony for the event will be held in late May. Additional funds for this year’s event can be generated until August.