Highlands’ 11th annual Relay for Life, “Carnival of Hope,” was held Friday and Saturday, August 19-20, at the Highlands Recreational Park. The Relay for Life walk has been taking place on local, regional and national level for 27 years.
Debbie Grossman, the chair for the Relay for Life event, and Mike Murphy, the co-chair, conducted the opening ceremonies. Grossman gave statistics to show how prevalent cancer is and how much good Relay for Life is doing. Just in North Carolina, the American Cancer Society has funded $18 million in research grants in 2011. Grossman applauded the community for being just as instrumental. “What we do as a community is just as important as that $18 million; every little bit counts.”
After the opening remarks and recognizing all the members of the Relay for Life committee, Rev. Lee Bowman of the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands gave the invocation and Mary Beth Brody sang the national anthem. Murphy then spoke a few words about the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). ACS CAN is the ACS advocacy and lobbying organization to lawmakers. Murphy described the organization as the “advocacy arm” on federal and state levels. The ACS CAN website states that the organization “provides the muscle necessary to bring attention to issues related to research funding, access to quality care, prevention, early detection and treatment.” Murphy also reminded people of why they were there. “We are here to celebrate the survivors, we are here to remember those who have lost the fight and we are here to fight back to get rid of this horrible disease,” he declared. Murphy later stated that with the recruitment they did at the event, Highlands currently has 70 members for ACS CAN, and are aiming for a goal of 75-80 members..
Murphy introduced the guest speakers for the 2011 Relay for Life event, Paula Jones and Denise Berry.
Jones has been battling cancer for 20 years, first with breast cancer. Jones’ latest bout with skin cancer came in 2001. “Why we are here is to make sure that fewer and fewer and fewer and fewer people are affected by this,” Jones said in her speech. Jones voiced her appreciation to the survivors for battling the disease, the caregivers for lending their support and help and to all of the volunteers and sponsors that help to fund the necessary research to end the disease “You may not have had cancer,” Jones stated, “but by being here you are saying ‘I’m not going to let my daddy have it, or my uncle, or my aunt, or my mother, or my sister, or whoever.”
Berry has been involved in Relay for Life for three years. She is a survivor of stage four breast cancer that has spread to her spine. Although the outlook appears grim, Berry declares that she is being positive about it. “I know I’m going to make it. I feel confident with my faith in God, the love of my husband, my sister, my parents, my two daughters, and everyone that has offered up prayers,” she said. Berry also voiced her thanks to everyone present that gives to Relay for Life cancer research because it helps her, and thousands of others like her, to survive.
Jobi Meade from Charleston, SC is a 20 year breast cancer survivor. She was proud to be at the event.
After the survivor’s lap and the survivor/caregiver lap, the visitors enjoyed fun-filled attractions. The main attraction was when Mike Jolly of the Highlands Police Department climbed into the dunking pool. Jolly dared people the chance to get back at him, and everyone that could, took that chance.
There were several food vendors offering everything from funnel cakes, cotton candy and snow cones to hot dogs, hamburgers and sausage dogs. Grossman, was helping at the Fressers Eatery tent.
There was also a silent cake auction with cakes and desserts of all kinds set up behind the main stage area.
Relay for Life volunteers were selling tickets for 15 different raffles including: a Bill Cochran hand-carved trout valued at $750, a hand made Christmas tree skirt, a $100 Exxon gift card, a $100 Ingles gift card, a $100 Lakeside restaurant gift card and various other gift cards.
After dark the luminaries, which lined the track, were somberly lit in memory of those that courageously battled cancer but lost the fight.
The walk continued all night. The final lap came early Saturday morning, followed by the closing ceremonies with special recognition of those that gave an extra effort to the event.