By Lacy Hilliard
If you drove past Ralph Stout Park on Friday, July 13 you may have noticed a sea of purple. The 15th annual Relay for Life went off without a hitch and though it took place on a fabled day of bad luck, the cancer survivors involved feel that they are anything but unlucky. The sky over Ralph Stout looked ominous in places with breaks of sunlight were visible through the dreary gray which provided a poetic setting for the event. Though the battle for cancer survival can be dark at times, hope shines through.
Everyone that worked to organize the Relay for Life event is a volunteer and the amount of extensive festivities offered at the event shows that many tireless efforts went into the planning the execution of the Relay. Volunteers like Lesa Brown, Celeste Dunn, Connie Garland, Sarah Campbell, Bob Eller, and Linda Keller played significant roles in the success of the event. The event began with the survivor dinner which was sponsored by Stouts Plumbing Place, Teammates Pizza, Johnson County Funeral Home, Mountain City Funeral Home, Jack Cress (Exxon), Johnson County Muffler Shop, The Final Touch, Homers Collision Center, Johnson County Builders Supply, Jones Hardwood, and True Value Hardware. The dinner was served by volunteers, Bobby Smith, Mary Alice Norris, Mae Matheson, Camilla Osborne, Vikki Triplett, Mary Fritz, Elaine Moore, and Sherry Fritz. As the survivors dined, they were entertained by a performance from local musician, Logan Vincent. Emcee, DJ, and all around entertainer, Billy Gambill was a permanent fixture on the Relay stage providing an appropriate soundtrack to the event playing songs like Destiny Childs Survivor and the Ben E. King classic, Stand by Me. An outpouring of emotion was experienced by the crowd as the survivors took their traditional lap around the track, carrying banners and holding their arms up in the air in celebration of another year of survival.
The sale of luminarias is the largest fundraiser for the Relay and this year the goal was steep. In honor of the Johnson County Relays 15th Anniversary, a goal of 2,012 luminarias was set. Amazingly the goal was surpassed and 2,038 luminarias were sold, raising over $11,000 to be donated to cancer research and other Relay for Life sponsored programs.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.
By Lacy Hilliard