Cancer battle continues

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WINDSOR – It’s the granddaddy of Relays.

For the 20th year, those with a passion for fighting cancer will continue that battle during the annual Relay For Life of Bertie County, the state’s oldest such event.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and lasting throughout the night and into late Saturday morning, Bertie Relay officials have grand plans for this milestone event. A busy agenda of activities includes the traditional salute to cancer survivors and victims, highlighted by Friday’s luminary ceremony at 9 p.m.

New to the event is a festive display of fireworks (planned to light up the night sky over the BertieHigh School football stadium shortly after the close of the luminary ceremony) and a Womanless Beauty Pageant at 12 midnight.

Hale Artificier Fireworks, Inc. will provide the display, as sponsored by Perdue Farms, Inc. and Coastal Medical Transport. Hale Artificier has provided fireworks for the annual July 3rd display in Windsor as well as many other popular venues, including the North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead City and the North Carolina Shrimp Festival in Sneads Ferry.

However, the entertainment does not start and stop with fireworks. Relay go’ers will be treated to a performance by the Eyes of Emiline, who will be the opening act on Friday. This sister trio –  Jessica, Amanda, and Emily King of Rich Square, are currently taking the country music scene in North Carolina by storm. They perform their own hip originals and some hot country covers at restaurants, fairs, and festivals across the state.  An album of their original songs is entitled “Perfect.”

Also taking the stage at Relay will be another popular local group – Moonshine. This rock band consists of members primarily from Bertie and Hertford counties – Tony Fornes, guitar and vocals; James Lane, bass and vocals; R.T. Johnson, guitar and vocals; Jimmy Pelt, drums and vocals; and Cliff Jernigan, sound and light engineer.

As an added attraction, a special anniversary presentation will be held Friday, one tracing the history of Relay For Life in Bertie County, remembering and celebrating 20 years of hope.

Saturday’s agenda includes a sunrise service by ConocanaryBaptistChurch; the Kids Walk at 9 a.m. and a special Pinewood Derby competition conducted by the Windsor Cub Scouts.  You may bring your car and sign up at 8:30 a.m. The Pinewood Derby race will help Bertie Relay promote and recruit drivers for the Road To Recovery program.

Relay will conclude with a closing ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday with a final celebration walk.

For Artie Johnson, chair of the 2013 Bertie Relay, the event is personal.

“In early April I was once again reminded of how important it is that we continue our fight when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” Johnson said. “She is currently undergoing treatment using a chemotherapy drug developed by an American Cancer Society researcher.

“Our family has had a number of other members who have been diagnosed with cancer,” Johnson added. “I lost my father to lung cancer when I was 17. My grandmother passed away when I was younger with stomach cancer. My sister is a breast and kidney cancer survivor. My father-in-law is a kidney cancer survivor.  Like so many other families we have had far too many diagnosed with this dreadful disease.”

Johnson said while his family has been forced to climb medical mountains over the years, he feels stronger for the effort, much like Bertie County itself.

“This county has been through some trying times throughout the past 20 years, but in spite of the numerous disasters that have occurred, the people throughout the community have shown their dedication and perseverance to its fellow citizens. Seeing the support through the many disasters reminds me so much of the fight against cancer,” he noted.

Relay For Life is the number one fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, but Johnson stressed it is much more.

“Many people say they can’t join because they do not have any extra time to fund raise,” Johnson said. “I ask you to please join us because it is about a community taking up the fight.  It is about increasing awareness.  It is about joining together to show your support of those numerous family and friends who have been touched by cancer.”

Johnson said the public’s general presence at the survivor introduction ceremony and celebration lap would mean so much to those facing their personal battles each and every day.

“Please join us in showing our support and appreciation to these heroes of hope,” he said. “Following the survivor celebration and caregiver support lap, you can get a glimpse of the many teams who have joined the fight.  Then sit back and enjoy some great music and entertainment by Eyes of Emiline and by our very own Charles Smith as well as the Moonshine Band. Be sure to stop by our many Relay For Life campsites and enjoy some good old southern cooking with many selections from which to choose.”

Johnson closed by saying, “I would like to offer a special thanks to the entire community for having a voice in helping to finish the fight against cancer. To each committee member, team captain, participant, survivor, and caregiver, it would not be possible without you.  Thank you so much for what I know will be another successful year for Relay For Life of Bertie County.”

Teams participating in the 2013 Bertie Relay include the Bertie County Health Department, Vidant Bertie Hospital, Cedar Landing Baptist Church, Kathy’s Kritters, the Cancer Fighters, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Aulander Elementary School, Bertie Rural Health Association, Bertie Stem School, Pirates Club, Bertie High School, Team Joe, Aulander First Baptist Church, Conocanary Baptist Church, Bertie Board of Education, Indian Woods Baptist Church Youth, Beautiful Zion Baptist Church, Bertie Early College, Enchanted Creations, St. Paul Baptist Church, Inside and Out, Perdue,         Colerain Elementary School, Windsor Elementary School, Indian Woods Baptist Church, Ross Baptist Church, Church of God for All People, Bertie Middle School , Alpha Phi Alpha, West Bertie Elementary School, The Bandits, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mt. Ararat Church, and Sandy Branch Baptist Church.

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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