Cancer fight continues

Published 8:56 am Thursday, April 16, 2015

MURFREESBORO – As with any battle of war, there are casualties. The key to winning that war is for the survivors, joined by fresh troops, to pick up the “battle flag” and move forward.

Such will be the case here this weekend when Squirrel Park on the campus of Chowan University will become the temporary home of the American Cancer Society’s annual Hertford-Gates Relay for Life.

“We look forward to seeing you at Chowan University Squirrel Park on Friday, April 17, and Saturday, April 18 where we will come together one more time to encourage and honor our survivors, and remember those that we have lost,” stated Angie Plaunty and Shannon Pittman who are serving as the co-chairs for the 2015 Hertford-Gates Relay for Life.

“To our community, sponsors, and Relay family, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation for not only your monetary support, but also for the time spent in helping make our event a great success. Without all of your donations, fundraising, and support this event would not be possible,” they added.

The local event, now in its 15th year, will begin its busy agenda at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 17 with opening ceremonies at the main stage. This year’s featured speaker is Caleb Topping, a 19-year-old from Northampton County who has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since January of 2014.

Also featured on opening night are the traditional survivor lap and caregiver lap as well as music from the Moonshine Band and Country artist Colton James.

Friday night’s main attraction is the luminary ceremony (9-10 p.m.). There, thousands of candles will be lit inside small bags, which will line the sidewalks of Squirrel Park and light the way for the Relay walkers.

For those attending Relay (the event is open to the general public), be sure to come hungry as there will be plenty of food offered for sale. Menu items (located at the sites of the participating teams) include BBQ (pork and beef) sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, chicken kabobs, chicken tenders, turkey legs, nachos, cakes, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, funnel cakes, cheesecake, and strawberry shortcake.

Several teams will also conduct fundraising raffles.

The “Relay” (walk) begins in earnest at 10 p.m. Friday when members of the 32 teams take turns or walk in force around Squirrel Park throughout the night and well into Saturday morning.

The annual Kid’s Walk is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday. The crowning of Little Mr. Relay and Little Miss Relay will take place at 9:30 a.m.

Closing ceremonies are slated for 12 noon.

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Relay for Life. It all began with Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Washington colorectal surgeon who wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons.

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, in May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

While he circled the track those 24 hours, he thought about how others could take part. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Months later he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the colorful, historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield…a tradition that remains alive 30 years later at venues across the United States, to include Chowan University.

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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