Relay Time!

Published 8:42 am Thursday, April 25, 2013

MURFREESBORO – There’s a wise old saying that goes like this…..“Anything worth having is worth fighting for.”

Despite the absence of a boxing ring set up in the middle of Chowan University’s Squirrel Park this weekend, expect a “fight” to break out as a thousand or so individuals will gather in this beautiful setting to raise money in the ongoing battle to find a cure for cancer.

The 2013 Hertford-Gates Relay for Life begins at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Participants and spectators alike will join forces in an annual effort to generate funding for the American Cancer Society. Most all have either experienced a personal battle with this disease, whether it attacked their body or someone they love.

Cancer can strike anyone at anytime, but thanks to key advancements in medical research as well as an effort to better educate the general public about this disease there is a noted decline in the number of cancer-related illnesses and deaths.

That is due in part to events such as Relay for Life, a celebration, so to speak, of those who have fought this disease and won while taking the time to remember family members and friends that have lost their battle against cancer.

For the 13th consecutive year, citizens of Hertford and Gates counties, along with guests from other areas, will raise the American Cancer Society’s flag and join hands in this ongoing fight. The 2013 Hertford-Gates Relay for Life will feature a record-setting 60 teams and 1,022 participants, which runs non-stop until 12 noon on Saturday. Most all teams will have on-site fundraisers, as well as a wide assortment of food for sale, throughout this year’s event.

“The Hertford-Gates communities come together each year financially and collectively to help us make each year special for our survivors and caregivers,” said Angie Plaunty, co-chair of the 2013 event. “We celebrate the victories over cancer and remember those that have lost their battles. Jackie (Brinkley, also a co-chair for 2013) and I would like to invite everyone to come out and celebrate with us and to help us make this year the year we find the cure. Remember that saving lives starts with you.”

For Plaunty and so many others involved in this annual event, the battle is personal.

“To say that I have a passion for Relay for Life would be an understatement,” she stressed. “I have lost three grandparents and just a little over a year ago one of my best friends to cancer. My co-chair, Jackie Brinkley, and Relay Planning Committee member Maria Evans are each battling cancer yet again.

“This fight is personal and it gets even more so with each day that passes,” Plaunty continued. “Jackie and I both are so proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.  Their passion and drive is unstoppable. I speak for all of us when I say that we will not stop fighting until we have a world free from cancer.”

While this year’s Relay schedule is filled with activities on both days, one of the most moving events will get underway shortly past 9 p.m. on Friday where the huge crowd will fall silent with the start of the annual luminary ceremony. There, names of cancer survivors and victims are shown on a big screen at the main stage. In the background, thousands of luminary bags plus several torches honoring or memorializing cancer patients will line the walkway and produce a soft, comforting glow that will later help light the way for those taking part in the event.

Opening ceremonies are set for 6 p.m. on Friday followed by the traditional first lap for cancer survivors and then by their caregivers. An introduction of each team will follow.

The Moonshine Band will provide entertainment on Friday night. Also scheduled at 10 p.m. is the annual Womanless Beauty Pageant….a treat you do not want to miss.

Among Saturday’s highlights is the annual Kid’s Walk at 9 a.m. The winners of that event will be crowned by Kelsey Barberio, Miss North Carolina Teen for 2013, and Ahoskie’s own Kristina Cooper, the reigning Miss Charlotte and first runner-up during the Miss North Carolina USA 2013 pageant.

But of all the festivities planned for Friday and Saturday at ChowanUniversity, the main focus remains on aiding the American Cancer Society.

“Relay for Life is the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. We would not have the Hope Lodge in Greenville or the research that we have in North Carolina without their efforts. Our very own Relay event contributes to those resources that are right here in our back yards. Please come out and support this cause,” Plaunty concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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