Meet Art Clementin, Honorary Survivor for the 2018 Relay for Life event in Hancock County. He's rolling up his sleeves to help out with the event, which raises money that will help others with cancer. Find out how you can join Art on April 21st.
- story by LB Kovac, photos by Ana Balka, Lionel Haynes, Jr. and courtesy Relay for Life
This year, Relay For Life has a new location in Hancock County - the Crab Fest grounds behind the Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church, 228 S. Beach Boulevard, Bay St. Louis. On Saturday, April 21st, action gears up at 11am and goes until 9pm.
Members of participating community teams will take shifts walking or jogging in this fun "marathon" event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Teams will also sell snacks, drinks and register folks for prizes.
Click here to register for the event! Don't have a team? Join one, they'll be delighted to have you!
Clementin underwent a new surgery and successfully eradicate his cancer. A year later, Clementin was declared cancer free.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, an average of 14,000 people in our state are newly diagnosed with cancer each year. Colorectal and breast cancers are the most common diagnoses, but prostate and mouth cancer diagnoses are on the rise.
The costs of cancer treatment, coupled with the increasing number of diagnoses, mean that cancer is also close to eclipsing heart disease as the number one killer in Mississippi. In 2016, 20% of deaths in the state were caused by cancer, according to the Health Department.
But there is hope.
Clementin puts his faith in the research that is carried on by organizations such as the American Cancer Society. "I was assisted [in my own recovery] because of research done years ago," he says. "I'm a recipient of lots of people's research and hard work in the medical field."
Clementin's role as Honorary Survivor comes with quite a bit of responsibility. It's not wearing a sash and waving at crowds - Clementin must help bridge the gap between cancer survivors and the public, whose donations can greatly affect the outcomes of their diagnoses.
Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Communities put on their own celebrations - relays, yes, but also games, dinners, and survivor celebrations. Money raised during the event, from sales and donations, funds cancer research and treatment.
"That's why I want to encourage as many people as possible to attend," says Clementin. "We need to get the public involved and fight this horrible disease." With more donations, the research necessary to fight the spread of cancer can proceed.
Bernadette Cullen, along with her co-chair Nonnie Richardson, are the organizers of this year's Harrison and Hancock Counties Relay for Life. The event is slated to take place April 21 at the Our Lady of the Gulf Crabfest grounds.
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Scenes from past Relay For Life Events, Hancock County
Cullen, herself involved with the local Relay for Life event for more than a decade, promises fun at this year's event: games, kids’ craft, popular bands, and good food. "It's a party with a purpose," she says.
Cullen points out that Relay for Life is different from other cancer fundraisers because it doesn't just support one type of cancer. "All types - breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia - you name it, we support it. The money goes to help research for all types."
She adds, "Most of the money stays locally. It goes to all kinds of things that your neighbors need, like medicine, doctor visits, rides, etc."
Without the focus on a particular cancer, Relay for Life attendees and organizers are free to focus on the survivors themselves. People like Clementin, who have successfully treated their cancer, as well as people who are still actively battling their cancers.
And Clementin, in turn, can support one of the organizations that made his own battle that much more speedy. He says, "Doctors are able to do a lot of things they weren't able to do even ten years ago. Whether it's a dollar or a hundred thousand dollars, donations are important to research and saving lives."