On Thursday, June 26, approximately 100 cancer survivors met for a special dinner at Family Central’s cafeteria to celebrate their survival of the disease.
“It is an opportunity for us to honor them and to let them know there is information available to help them,” said Karen Powell, one of the event organizers who is the public relations manager at Skybest. “It’s also a chance to give an update about Relay (for Life) and show that it is still very much a part of our community.”
The event was made to honor the survivors. Traditionally an ice cream social, organizers opted for a full-fledged dinner instead.
“It is the first sit-down dinner Ashe County has held for their cancer survivors,” said Tammy Mash, a volunteer with Relay for Life said. “We have several people here tonight, and I’m glad everybody can see that.”
Relay for Life will take place on July 18 at Ashe County High School. The opening ceremonies will kick off around 6 p.m.
“It touches lives in a positive way and it brings the community together,” Powell said. “It’s very special, there just aren’t words to describe the camaraderie and community you feel.”
Relay for Life started in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington, and has taken place in Ashe County since 1995. Today, the event takes place in over 5,000 communities in all 50 states and 22 nations.
According to the Ashe County Relay for Life page, at press time, 15 teams and 136 participants had raised $12,643.97.
“In recent years we have averaged having between $50,000 and $60,000 raised (by people) involved in the relay,” Powell said. “One year we peaked at over $100,000 and that was the best year. It was very exciting. Every dollar counts, no matter how big or small.”
While honoring the survivors was the main focus of the dinner, the fight to end cancer is far from over. Money raised by Relay for Life is given to the American Cancer Society for research.
“Whether (a cure) is found in our lifetime or our children’s lifetime, we want them to have a better quality of life so they do not have to face this disease,” Powell said.
For more information, go to relay.acsevents.org/ and type in Ashe County where it says “sign up for an event.”
“If you have ever heard the words ‘you have cancer,’ we invite you to participate as a survivor in Relay for Life,” Mash said.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.