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May 5, 2014

Walkin’ after midnight

Athens — One in three people living in the U.S. will hear the words, "You have cancer," in their lifetime.

Henderson County cancer survivors wore their purple T-shirts signifying their battle with the disease during the 2014 Relay For Life event Friday night.

Survivors, families, caregivers, friends and businesses gathered at the Henderson County Fairpark Complex for the annual Relay For Life fundraiser.  Cancer never sleeps, and neither did the volunteers at Fairpark. The event was held from 7 p.m. to 5:45  a.m.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society.  There are thousands of relays worldwide. This year’s all-night event hosted 11 teams and over 200 people  at the Henderson County Fairpark Complex.

“The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the experiences of the cancer patient undergoing treatment,” The American Cancer Society says. “The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease.”

"The American Cancer Society Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated,” said Jacque Marshall.

The City of Athens celebrated Relay For Life with a proclamation. In honor of cancer survivors, and to not forget those lost to cancer, Athens turned the Courthouse Square purple for a week.

Prior to the start of the relay, the committee provided dinner for survivors and their families. Survivor Dinner Chairperson  Jean Goodwin-Britain received donations from local restaurants and merchants to provide the barbeque meal.

Following the welcoming and invocation, local singer Kadie Lynn started the Relay with her rendition of “Star Spangle Banner.”  The festivities were started with the survivor lap being the first lap of the evening.  The survivor lap was followed by a caregiver lap.

Event organizer Trena Miers told the group they were in for an exciting evening of fun and games.

The teams included Prosperity Bank, Buck-A-R00$, Citizens National Bank, CNB 3 Ring Circus; Walmart Athens,  Rays For Life, Walmart GBC, Seeds of Hope, Murchison ISD, Brownsboro ISD, Bears, Schneider Electric and Wings of Grace.

Walgreens was on-hand to hand out water to the walkers. Well Worship set up a hospitality table. Paul Benson donated equipment, and the Retreat Day Spa gave free massages, while Donut Supreme provided a free donut breakfast for the event. Other donors included Walmart Athens, Brookshires Athens, McAlister’s and Chicken Express.

Underwriters and sponsors for the event included Athens Hematology Oncology, Solar Turbine, TVCC, Prosperity Bank, Teague Chevrolet, McDonald's Restaurant, Citizens National Bank, First State Bank, Southside Bank, Southside VFD, Oakwood Place and Megan Phillips.

Miers said, “I want to thank all my Relayers. I appreciate all of you for doing your part. It is not an easy thing to put this event together, and I really appreciate all of you for helping out. We had folks chip in when they were not asked, but saw a need, and just did it. That is what team work is all about. We all want to remember why we Relay. I want an end to this disease. I don’t want any more family members or friends dying of this disease. This is my passion, but I cannot do it alone. I need all of you to help me.”

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