WINDSOR – The Bertie County Relay for Life was 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 way too much.
The 26th annual event was held Friday evening as a one-day celebration at Roy Bond, Sr. Stadium at the old Bertie High School in Windsor.
In addition to the music, food, and fun, participants took turns walking or running around the track that rings the football field. Due to the unseasonable evening heat, only a few brave participants walked close to the entire six hours; but, as they put it: cancer never sleeps.
“Our goal this year is $230,000,” said Bertie County Relay for Life Funds Chairman Bobbie Parker. “To date, we have raised $190,612.98 but we have outstanding corporate sponsorships and payroll deduction which should put us at an estimated $250,000 by the end of this Relay season.”
The speaker for this year’s event was Bertie County Early College High School principal Wanda Cofield, who related how this killer we all want to eradicate has affected her life.
“I’m glad to be here because last year this time I was just finishing chemo (radiation chemotherapy),” Cofield said. “And while I was here in person, I was really tired in body, so I’m really blessed to be here today.”
Donning a pair of pink boxing gloves, Cofield said that while news of a cancer diagnosis can be devastating and unsettling, the greatest thing to have on your side are your family and supporters.
“The fight is on,” she shouted through clenched fists. “I’ve got to fight because I’ve got to live.”
“I have two ‘F’ words for you,” she continued. “And my ‘F’ words are faith and fight. Just like (boxer Muhammed) Ali talked a lot of smack, I want you to know that my ultimate help comes from above. I’m still walking and moving by faith; because it’s faith and fight, and we’re the winners.”
In addition to the 26th anniversary for Bertie Relay, 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 2019 the honor goes to Bethany Believers.
Among the other award recipients were: Best Tent Theme: 1st Place – Aulander Elementary: “Changing Lives For A Cure…give your spare change”; 2nd Place – Bertie County Schools Central Office: “Guiding Light To A Cure”;
3rd Place – Conocanary Bapt. Chruch: “Conocanary Pledges War Against Cancer.”
Best Campsite Decoration:
1st – Bertie County Schools Central Office; 2nd – Indian Woods Bapt. Church – “Saddle Up For A Cure and Let’s Stampede Cancer”, and 3rd – Friends of Relay – Game On, TEAM (Totally End All Malignancies).
The most survivors recruited by any one team and winner of the Willie Bazemore ‘Pack the Track Award’ was Sandy Branch Baptist Church who recruited 13 cancer survivors.
Some other awards:
1st – Vidant Bertie – I Do Not Like Cancer (Cat In The Hat)
2nd – Bethany Believers – Follow The Yellow Brick Road To A Cure
3rd – Indian Woods Bapt. Church – Saddle Up For A Cure and Stampede Cancer
Beth Cayton Light Up The Night Award – Friends of Relay – $1,970 raised in luminaria.
Most Laps Walked By A Team – St. Elmo Bapt. Church – 238 laps.
Most Laps Walked By An Individual – Kathy Pierce of Team Friends of Relay – 70 laps
Most Money Raised By A Team:
1st – Perdue Farms – (once again outdistancing all other teams with a total of $107,605.10 thru donations and payroll deductions)
2nd – Friends of Relay – $13,638.80
3rd – Town of Aulander – $10,151.35
Most Money Raised By an Individual – JoAnn Jordan of Team Friends of Relay – $10,575
Finally, there were even prizes for the youngsters with Sabriah Hathaway claiming Little Miss Relay for raising the most money, while Lauren Dickens and Paisley Copeland were runners-up; and Little Mr. Relay, for the second straight year, went to Drake McKeel.