WINDSOR – The Bertie County Relay for Life, just one of many communities across the country that came together this past weekend to honor cancer survivors, remembered loved ones lost, and vowed to fight back against a disease that has already taken too much.
The 25th annual event was held Friday evening as a one-day celebration at Roy Bond, Sr. Stadium at the old Bertie High School in Windsor.
There weren’t as many tents, or even walkers, but that did not in any way dim the enthusiasm.
In addition to the music, food, and fun, participants took turns walking or running around the track that rings the football field. Some participants even walked close to the entire six hours because, as they put it: cancer never sleeps.
“Our goal this year was $211,000.00,” said Funds Chairman Bobbie Parker. “Once all payroll deduction and corporate sponsorship money is turned in, we anticipate a total well over $230,000.00. Of course, not all our corporate partners have reported so we expect to have more to report before the end of the fiscal year which ends August 31. With all we hope to raise, Bertie should reach or exceed our goal’s gross with a net goal of $200,000 when all sources have reported in helping make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
The speaker for this year’s event was Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Edmonds, who related how this killer we all want to eradicate has affected her life. Edmonds told the crowd that she is a two-time cancer survivor.
“I didn’t get discouraged no matter what people would tell me, “the superintendent noted. “Sometimes I would go for treatment and there were people there the week before, and you go back the next week and they were no longer there. If you asked where they were, someone simply told you, ‘They lost the battle’.”
“We have to empower our minds,” she continued. “We need to ensure people when we are meeting a person who are now in the fight themselves, or are a part of someone who has faced this challenge, that we carry this empowerment.”
“There’s not a lot I’ve been through to this point that’s broken me,” Edmonds acknowledged. “So I know I have to continue to push, continue to have hope, and once you choose hope, anything is possible.”
In addition to the ‘silver anniversary’ for Bertie Relay for Life, longtime chairman Artie Johnson, who passed away in 2015, was honored. And Johnson’s other committee members picked up the fight; and they also chose a unique way to remember their former chair with the Artie Johnson “Heart of Relay Award” which goes to the relay team that displays the most spirit. In 2018 the honor goes to Friends of Relay
Among the other award recipients were: Best Team Theme: Vidant Bertie Hospital with – “Glow-Stick It to Cancer”. 2nd Place – Bertie County Schools Central Services – “Lights, Camera, Cure”; and 3rd Place went to Cedar Landing Baptist Church – “Popping for a Cure”.
The most survivors recruited by any one team and winner of the Willie Bazemore ‘Pack the Track Award’ were the Friends of Relay who recruited 43 cancer survivors.
Some other awards:
Best Tent Decoration – 1st Place – Friends of Relay – “Lock Up Cancer”
Best Tent Decoration – 2nd Place – Bertie Early College High School – “Cruising For A Cure”
Best Tent Decoration – 3rd Place – Windsor Elementary School – “Scare Away Cancer” and their haunted house motif.
Best T-Shirt Design – 1st Place – Indian Woods Baptist Church – Colors of Hope
Best T-Shirt Design – 2nd Place – Bertie Early College High School – Cruising For A Cure
Best T-Shirt Design – 3rd Place – Vidant Bertie Hospital – Glow Stick It To Cancer
The most laps walked by a team went to Bertie Early College High School which completed 280 laps, roughly 70 miles distance. Cathy Pierce – for the second year in a row – had the most by an individual and she finished the fight by walking 71 laps, equal to 17.75 miles.
The Beth Clayton Light Up the Night Award for most luminaries sold by a team also went to Friends of Relay who raised $2,185.
Perdue Farms of Lewiston easily outdistanced their corporate contributing rivals with pledges totaling nearly $113,252.29 as the top fund-raising team, while the Friends of Relay was second with $13,349, and the Town of Aulander was third with $8,120. The top fund-raising individual was Joann Joyner with $10,487.
Finally, there were even prizes for the youngsters with Lauren Dickens claiming Little Miss Relay for raising $1,391.82; and Little Mr. Relay went to Drake McKeel, with $165 raised. Runners Up: Paisley Copeland – $505; Kinlee Draper – $150; and Amirah Rankins – $100.