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State’s oldest Relay moves to one-day event

WINDSOR – First it was the fighting spirit of the late NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!”

More recently, former ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott had a new battle cry with: “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live, live, and fight like hell!”

For the 22nd year, those with a real zeal and passion for continuing to fight cancer and those who support them in that effort will be promoting that battle during the annual Bertie County Relay for Life, the first and oldest Relay in the state of North Carolina.

This year the event has been shortened to a single day of activities at its usual venue of Bertie High School’s Roy Bond, Jr. Stadium.

“The American Cancer Society has some options for different models for this year and we chose the 12-hour event on Saturday from 10:00 in the morning until 10 at night,” said Relay committee member Jo Ann Jordan.

Missing this year will be long-time Bertie Relay chairman Artie Johnson, who passed away April 1 following an illness.  Johnson, along with Bobbie Parker, helped found the Bertie event which has raised over $3 million since its inception; in 2014 the total raised exceeded over $200,000.

Kathy Cobb, a past co-chairperson, said Johnson will be honored following the Saturday opening ceremonies.

“We want to be a community event where we’re entertaining as well as honor our survivors and caregivers,” Cobb said.

Also new for 2015 will be the ‘Wigs for Kids’ hair donation program.  Similar to ‘Locks for Love’, which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering medical hair loss, or alopecia areata, the wigs provide help to restore the children’s self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

Beginning at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sara Rowe, a beautician with Laura’s United Hair Line of Hertford, will be cutting hair for the hair donation program.

“Anybody that has the long hair – six or more inches that can be cut off – including family members and caregivers, can get haircuts and shave their heads to show their support,” said Jordan. “It’s the same program except this year the emphasis is on the children.”

There will be more than 70 teams from churches to businesses to individuals that will not only be walking, but also having other on-site fund-raisers.

“These will be going on all day long,” added Jordan. “There will also be activities for the kids beginning with the Kids Walk, so we’re trying to support and raise those funds so we can end cancer.”

Numerous teams are slated to participate, to include the Askewville Pre-K, Vidant Bertie Hospital, Cedar Landing Baptist Church, Kathy’s Kritters, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Aulander Elementary School, Aulander Medical Practice, Bertie Rural Health Association, Bertie STEM School, Bertie High School, Ross Baptist Church, Aulander First Baptist Church, Conocanary Baptist Church, Bertie County Board of Education, Piney Wood Chapel Baptist Church, Beautiful Zion Baptist Church, Bertie Early College, Mars Hill Community, Perdue Farms, Melanomore, St. Elmo Baptist Church, Town of Aulander, Indian Woods Baptist Church, St. Elmo Baptist Church, First Baptist Powellsville, and Sandy Branch Baptist Church.

Also all during the day there will be fundraising activities such as face painting, Deep Fried Oreo and Sweets, hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.  Beginning at 6:30 p.m. pig pickin’ plates will be prepared for sale.

A highlight of the evening program – set for 9 p.m. – will be the Luminaria. Whereby loved ones lost to cancer are remembered and those battling the disease are honored by dedicating luminaria bags with candles inside that are illuminated after dark. Each luminaria is personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer. Hundreds of the illuminated bags will ring the track at Bond Stadium.

“After the service we’re going to close, have the final lap together,” said Cobb. “We’re hoping people can stay out and we’re hoping to still have some entertainment.”

“The idea is to light the way toward a cure for cancer,” said Luminaria chairperson Diane Cowand. “These are the flames of hope that will burn throughout the night.”

 Bertie Relay for Life

Schedule of Events

Saturday, May 16

Roy Bond Jr. Stadium Football Field

BertieHigh School

US 13 South – Windsor

10:00 am   –  Welcome

11:00 am  – 1:00 pm  Sara Rowe, Beautician with Laura’s United Hair Line, Hertford NC will be cutting hair for the Wigs For Kids – Hair Donation Program

12:00 noon   –   Kids Walk

2:00 pm  –  Keith Little – Country Music

4:00 pm  –  Ray Harrell – Gospel Music

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm  –  Registration for Survivors

5:00 pm  –  Opening Ceremony – Survivors Recognition and Lap

6:00 pm  –  Jerry White – White Oak Band

7:00 pm  –  Jimmy Bartley – Bluegrass Music

8:00 pm  –  Richard Simmons – Gospel Music

9:00 pm  –  Luminaria Ceremony

10:00 pm  –  Closing Ceremony