By Lynn Lucas
For the Tribune
The Fayette County Relay for Life is set for Friday, June 14, at the Oak Hill High School football field. The kick-off party was held last month at the Oak Hill Holiday Lodge.
The welcome was provided by Melissa Menei and Doreen Workman, co-chairs for this year’s event. Beth Cummings, community manager for the American Cancer Society, announced the mission policy and showed a very touching video.
Relay for Life, which many call a life changing event, was started in 1985 by Dr. Gordan Klatt when he walked for 24 consecutive hours to bring awareness of the disease. Today, the event brings together more than 4 million people in 20 countries, walking, honoring, working together for a common goal, to celebrate more birthdays and to ultimately erase cancer. Together participants celebrate those who have fought the horrific disease and won, to support those battling now and to remember those whose lives were taken too soon.
If you have never been to a Relay for Life event, you are encouraged to attend. This is a family event and something that could be made a tradition.
In Fayette County, the annual Relay is held at the Oak Hill High School football field. The all-night event has teams setting up tents where they can rest in between laps around the field. Each team has at least one member on the track at all times.
Why all night? Cancer never sleeps, so why should we? The event begins with a survivor walk during which survivors are encouraged to walk around the track to the roar of a cheering crowd. During the next lap, their caregivers walk beside them to show their support, the compassion, and their love.
Then the walking begins! The survivors are then treated to a sit down meal. There are lots of games for the children. Past years have featured a dunking booth, splash in the face, face painting, inflatables, jail ‘n’ bail, Road to Recovery race and the Ms. Relay, when men dress as women.
Music is provided throughout the event. Past performers have been the singing deputy, Rob Legg, and local rising star Colton Pack. More details will be forthcoming on this year’s entertainers. Wal-mart provides a concession stand with hot dogs and homemade chili and slaw, nachos, pizza, and other vendors also offer wares.
At dusk participants gather around the track where luminarias are placed, each with a name recognizing those who have fought cancer. Silence is held while each name is read over the speaker.
In the stands lighted bags are placed in the shape of the word “hope.” As the luminaria ceremony concludes and as the walkers make their way around the track guided only by the light of the bags, the sign touchingly changes to “cure.”
You may ask, “Does the money raised really help?” Yes, just look at some statistics for 2012 in West Virginia. A total of 3,974 patients and caregivers were provided with 7.143 services of support in their fight against cancer, 269 women received a Reach to Recovery visit, 55 individuals received a total of 1,436 rides to treatment via Road to Recovery, 690 received transportation support, 338 women attended a Look Good Feel Better session and the list goes on and on. The state has nine cancer resource centers.
The money that RFL brings in ensures that ACS can continue to save lives and to help create a world where people will be able to celebrate more birthdays by helping them stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back.
Once again, please join us at OHHS football field on June 14 beginning at 6 p.m.
If you would like to join or start a team, please come to the next meeting at Oak Hill Holiday Lodge on Feb.19.