Despite the gray clouds and tightened pocketbooks due to financial downturns, Hopkins County Relay For Life 2009 was still well attended, if not as heavily as in some past years.
Overall, spirits were high among those present which included at one point an estimated 300 cancer survivors and hundreds of others, including Relay team members, committee members, community supporters and sponsors.
While the majority of cancer survivors stayed for the official cancer survivors lap, which started the 12-hour walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society and its programs, some left after the special dinner held just prior to the opening ceremonies. Others came only for the survivors lap. Most trudged around the Sulphur Springs Middle School track and kept up a steady pace on foot, while some others made their way around the oval with assistance of wheelchairs.
As the survivors made their way around the track, everyone else lined the walk, sending up cheers and applause for each until the last survivors made their way back to the starting point.
Old friends and new were greeted by family and new friendships forged among those who kept vigil through the night. And, despite the fact that the featured band opted not to perform due to threat of rain, the atmosphere was mostly jovial.
The luminary ceremony was a somber occasion, honoring both those who have lost their battle or are still fighting, as well as those who are recovering. The candles remained lit through the event, a shining a symbol of hope lighting the path toward a cure.
Several team site featured fun themes, such as a tropical motif complete with a “tiki” hut, flower leis and members in grass skirts; one with a tree filled with monkeys reminding those present of the need to “quit monkeying around and find a cure” and that they would be “hanging out for a cure”; and even “The Three Little Pigs” who proclaimed a desire to “huff, puff and blow away cancer.”
In addition to the food bracelets to enjoy the offerings at the food tent all night and the silent auction featuring items donated by each team, several teams offered items for small donations to continue to raise funds through the night, including bags of cotton candy, coffee and carnival-type games.
Committee members won’t know whether the event raised the $125,000 goal for a while yet. Funds are still trickling in from teams and have yet to be tallied, and expenses will have to be deducted. A true count of RFL 2009’s success is generally announced within a few weeks of the event.
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