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Bertie County continues the fight for 24th straight year

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!”

Then, former ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott added 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!”

Most recently, it was TNT’s NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, with the words: “I will continue to keep fighting, sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me.  I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.”

For the 24th 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. 

Luminaries in memory of those who have lost their battle vs. cancer will help light the way in Jackson on Friday night. | File Photo

Three years ago the American Cancer Society rated it tops in the nation in its population category and Relay for Life of Bertie County has raised over three and a half million dollars in the fight against cancer over nearly a quarter century. Relay for Life of Bertie County is also recognized as one of the top fundraising events in the nation.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.

Once more, shortened to a single day of activities at its usual venue of the old Bertie High School’s Roy Bond, Jr. Stadium, Relay for Life has changed some things and allowed still others to remain the same.

There will still 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.

Numerous teams are slated to participate, they include the Askewville Pre-K School, 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, Bertie Middle School, Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy, Aulander First Baptist Church, Conocanary Baptist Church, Bertie County Board of Education, Southern Bank, Indian Woods Baptist Church, Bertie Early College, Mars Hill Community, Rho Rho Chapter Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Perdue Farms, Lace N Cakes, St. Elmo Baptist Church, Town of Aulander, Singing About A Cure, Center Grove Baptist Church, St. Elmo Baptist Church, and Sandy Branch Baptist Church.

One change – and not necessarily a big one – is the Kid’s Walk one of the activity highlights – has moved from Saturday morning to 8 p.m. on Friday night.

“The kids that register and fund-raise have a competition between the schools,” said April Smith, Relay for Life’s Senior Community Manager. “They’ll make a ‘Chain of Hope’, and the one with the longest link will win. There’ll be Little Miss Relay and Little Mister Relay of whoever raises the most money out of all the kids with the winner receiving a prize, and there will still be a Kid’s Lap.

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.

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

Bertie Relay for Life

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 19

6:00 pm  – Opening Ceremonies – Keynote Speaker: Kashi Bazemore Hall, Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy; Survivor introductions; Survivor lap

7:00 pm – Survivor Reception

8:00 pm – Kid’s Walk

9:00 pm – Luminary Ceremony

9:30 pm – White Oak Band,

11:00 pm – Accounting Complete

11:15 pm – Drawing for Prizes

11:45 pm – Closing Remarks – Last Lap

12:00 midnight – Event Closes