Relay for Life
This series of events make it fun to give and to volunteer - but there's a very serious purpose behind the efforts: helping cancer patients.
- story by Ana Balka
Your Donations Make a Difference
Cullen, along with April Chevis, co-captains Team Waveland. She also chairs the Survivors’ Celebration, a reception where survivors and their caregivers may eat a meal and talk with each other and with Relay team members on the day of the event.
Cancer is especially tough on those handling it alone, Cullen says. “I have a place in my heart for survivors and caregivers,” she says. “People do better when they have a lot of support.”
Survivors’ Celebration follows the day’s opening ceremony, the Survivor Walk, for which survivors and caregivers walk a lap around the track at 10 a.m. Following opening ceremonies and until event’s end, members of all participating Hancock County teams take shifts walking or jogging around the track.
Participating teams set up camps and booths around the track. Each year has a theme, and this year is Disney. “We encourage the teams to build elaborate campsites,” says Dave. Prizes and trophies given out at the end of the night, with best campsite and best costume among the categories recognized, as well as awards going to top individual and team fundraisers.
Team camps are decked out with everything from food sales to spacewalks, and the packed schedule includes the music of Phil “Smooth” Williams and the Electric Sheep, a water balloon toss, scavenger hunt, Zumba and line dancing, a fun (and funny!) womanless beauty pageant, and a lot more.
In the evening, survivor and volunteer Gwyn Ross will share inspiration with a talk, followed by the luminaria walk, a candlelight vigil, and the sky lantern release during the closing ceremony. Each luminaria and sky lantern is dedicated to an individual who has experienced cancer.
The volunteers each expressed gratitude for Relay for Life and for the teams of volunteers with whom they work to make it happen here in Hancock County. “It’s a great community event,” Dave says. “There’s not a person on this planet that hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way. I’m proud to be a part of Relay.”
“I love this program,” says Bernie, “and one reason is that it is the only event that benefits all types of cancer. ... To be able to work for an event where everybody benefits is really important to me.”