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Relay for Life raises thousands to fight cancer

By Staff | Jun 30, 2017

Photo by Toni Milbourne Graycee Howell, 4, enjoys a visit with some special guests at last Saturday's Relay for Life event. Howell was walking in honor of her godmother, Jeri Wines.

Jefferson High School was once again the location for the annual Jefferson County Relay for Life event held Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25. The event kicked off with the Survivor Lap at 6 p.m. and ran through the night, ending at 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

The moving luminaria ceremony was held at 9:30 p.m. when candles were lit in memory of those who lost their battle and in honor of those still fighting. All lights were extinguished except for the candles which circled the track area as each name was read. Listeners were reminded that “each light is a life.”

This year the event saw members of 45 teams come out to support the ongoing cause in finding a cure for cancer. Many of the teams have participated in Relay for multiple years and their members keep coming back because of the importance of the issue.

Teresa Tumblin, a member of Strolling for Survivors, said she has been relaying for 10 years. Both Tumblin’s sister and mother are cancer survivors.

“My sister, Diana, had melanoma and is 13 years cancer free. My mom, Eva, is seven years cancer free,” Tumblin said. She is thankful that the disease did not take the lives of her family members, but knows that others are not as fortunate.

“I come back to fight for everyone else,” she said of her dedication to Relay for Life.

Other teams are as dedicated, many having the same members and also inviting new members and leaders to the cause. Shirley Cole, a special education aide at T.A. Lowery Elementary School, said this year is a transition year for their Relay team as roles changed for individuals within the team.

“We didn’t really set a goal this year because of the leadership transition,” she said, “but, we are pleased with what we raised.” She went on to say that she is excited about starting toward next year’s event already.

The Relay, which returned to an overnight format this year, had walkers participating in a variety of themed laps throughout the night. Entertainment and contests were held to keep relayers active and awake.

The teams work to raise funds throughout the year by doing raffles, sales and other events as well as gathering donations.

The top fundraising team this year was once again the Hearts of Hope who, as of Wednesday of this week had raised $16,346. Team co-captain Kathy Moler shared that the team, made up of at least 20 individuals, has raised between $10,000 and $15,000 each year since they began relaying.

When thinking of the things they had done to get to their financial level, Moler said, “What haven’t we done?” They held a bingo, raffles and other fundraising events as well as gathering donations all year, she said.

Coming at second for the top fundraising team was Board of Hope with $14,080 and Sisters with a Cause at $7,160.

Honorary Chair of this year’s event, Brenda Dailey, saw her team, Barba’s Blessings raise $7.050 to give toward the fight.

According to the Jefferson Relay for Life website, the overall goal for the evening’s event was set at $100,000. As of Wednesday, the total of the 45 teams was at $95,882. Donations can still be made to teams on the Relay for Life website at Relayfor Life.or/JeffersonWV.