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One more time!

MURFREESBORO – For 19 years they’ve gathered here on the expansive, green lawn in front of the historic Columns Building on the campus of Chowan University.

In what can be best described as a carnival-like atmosphere, attendees have shared laughs and tears….all in an effort to bring awareness to and raise money for a cure to all types of cancer.

Cancer survivor Henry Hodges receives help from his mother, Melissa, as he signs his name to the Tree of Life board at last year’s Hertford-Gates Relay for Life. The 2019 event will be held Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, at Squirrel Park on the campus of Chowan University in Murfreesboro. File Photo by Cal Bryant

And they’ll do it all again this coming weekend – Friday and Saturday, April 12-13 – during the 19th annual Hertford-Gates Relay For Life. As it has been for the previous 18 years, those in attendance can enjoy food, fellowship, entertainment, and a chance to win various items. Meanwhile, teams representing local businesses, churches, schools, medical facilities, civic clubs, and Chowan student organizations will circle the driveway around Squirrel Park as they walk to raise funding for cancer research and services for patients battling this disease.

“I wish there was some way I could snap my fingers and we not ever need another Relay for Life event, but I just cannot get my fingers to snap right I guess,” said Nellie S. Chamblee who serves as the Chair of the 2019 Relay. “So here we are again and we are fighting for all cancer survivors, caregivers, and all of the family and friends of those affected by this terrible disease. It is my heartfelt driven goal to keep on pushing for a cure and to fight alongside all affected.”

The event opens to the public at 6 p.m. on Friday with remarks from Dr. Kirk Peterson, President of Chowan University. The guest speakers will be Deborah Morrison of Hertford County and Christy Stevens of Gates County.

Following the traditional opening laps for cancer survivors, caregivers, and event sponsors, entertainment will be provided by R.T. Johnson and then the Mimes of God and Daughters of the Most High.

All activity stops at 9 p.m. on Friday for the annual Luminary Ceremony. At that time, as darkness descends on the park, thousands of luminary bags and torches will be lit in honor of cancer survivors and in memory of those who have lost their battle.

Martin Terry will provide the entertainment following that ceremony.

The teams and their walkers will continue their fundraising quests overnight by participating in several theme laps:

12 midnight – 1 am – “Can You Dig It? (wear your best 70’s style clothing);

1-2 am – “Mummy Relay” (participants will be completely wrapped – head-to-toe – in toilet paper);

2-3 am – “Favorite Fairy Tale” (dress as your favorite character from a fairy tale);

3-4 am – “Holidaze” (Dress as your favorite holiday);

4-5 am – “Feed Me!” (Requires two teammates as one walks while eating food fed from behind);

5-6 am – “Sports Spirit” (dress in apparel from your favorite sports team); and

6-7 am – “Minute To Win It” (teams have one minute to prove they are the best on the track).

As the sun rises on Saturday morning, Patrice Williams from Vidant Health will conduct a Zumba exercise class from 7-8 am.

Just Dance NC will take place from 8-9 am followed by the annual Kids Walk, sponsored by Accordious Health at Creekside Care. Awards (Little Miss Relay and Little Mr. Relay) will be given to the top female and male youth fund raisers.

The Eric Dunlow Band and Madison Bunch will provide entertainment from 10-11:30 a.m.

The event’s closing ceremony is at 12 noon.

“It has been a busy and fun-filled year planning this event along with my leadership team,” noted Chamblee. “We are looking forward to everyone coming out and enjoying this year’s Relay for Life event. We have something for everyone to enjoy.”

Chamblee added that the theme for the 2019 event is “Attacking Cancer at Every Angle.”

“That theme stuck out to me and seemed appropriate to my own personal goals in relationship to cancer,” she said. “I feel that all of us in some way can attack cancer from every angle, be it raising money for the event, donating to the research involved in cancer, being a caregiver to a loved one going through the cancer journey, being a cancer patient with hope in our heart, and even a cheerleader for the people affected and offering a word of comfort to those in need. No matter how small or how big, everything done for cancer is one more punch to the cancer disease.

“So it is my honor and pledge for all of us to form a network and attack cancer from every angle so that hopefully, one day, relay events, cancer ribbons, and cancer itself are memories all of us can talk about and not have to be a part of,” she concluded.

Please note that public parking for this year’s Relay is very limited on campus. There is a large parking lot adjacent to campus at the intersection of Union Street and Sewell Street that will be open to the public.

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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