Relay raises $80,781

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 6, 2002

An overwhelming response has resulted in possibly the largestamount ever being raised at the Lincoln/Lawrence County Relay forLife.

The total reached $88,781 by the end of the 12-hour relay at 7a.m. Saturday, said an amazed Melissa Hester, chairman of thisyear’s event.

“We raised $20,000 more than we did last year, and all thecredit goes to the community, sponsors and the committee memberswho worked so hard,” she said. “I’m hoping this will make adifference in finding a cure for cancer.”

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The annual event, which raises money for the American CancerSociety, brought a few thousand people out to the Exchange ClubPark Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Members of the 27 participating teams set up elaboratelydecorated tents to create a festive mood for those making laps onthe track. Tents ranged in themes from a jungle setting to a1950s-style cafe.

“Everybody worked hard on their tents, and they looked reallygood,” said Hester.

As the sun went down, several hundred luminaries lined the pathfor walkers. The luminaries, which were sold as a fund raiser, weredecorated with the names of cancer survivors and those who havepassed away.

During the relay, teams were required to keep one walker on thetrack. Most had dozens.

“We had an average of about 300-320 people on the track between7 and 11 p.m.,” said Hester.

Walkers of all ages carried banners and batons with their teamlogo, and many teams wore matching shirts. A yellow duck andcartoon character Cruella D’Ville of 101 Dalmations even graced thetrack throughout the evening in support of their teams.

Brookhaven Exchange Club members volunteered their services andoperated the park rides to raise money from 7-10 p.m., whichbrought out hundreds of children.

“The rides were a big success and a great fundraiser. We reallyappreciate the support from the Exchange Club,” said Hester.

The mood of the evening mellowed with the lighting of thecandles at the luminary service. Participants stopped to rememberthe many reasons they were walking and staying up all night toraise money.

A quiet crowd gathered to honor cancer survivors and rememberthose who fought a courageous battle against cancer.

“They are the reason behind every fund-raiser. It’s all forthem,” said Hester.

The late Faye Wallace and Kay Terrell were remembered for theircontributions to the community. Wayne Wallace accepted an award inhonor of his wife, while Allison Terrell also accepted a specialplaque for her mother.

Hester said Relay for Life made it obvious that the community isclose-knit and filled with people with big hearts.

“I’m thankful to the community and all the support they showedthis year,” said Hester. “It’s nice to live in a community wherepeople care so much.”

One Family United Against Cancer won the award for the mostmoney raised with $13,933. The team also received the “Making theConnection” award for their educational efforts.

“They were the team that best incorporated cancer education intotheir tent site,” said Hester.

Other awards given at the conclusion of the event:

* Most money raised by an individual — Terry Lynn Watkins with$7,760

* Most laps recorded by a team– Brookhaven Exchange Club with785

* Most laps recorded by an individual — Peggy Bessonette with158

* Best team banner — Friends of Juvenile RehabilitationFacility with Spotting Cancer Cures

* Best tent site — State Bank and Trust with “Grease”

* Best baton — Wal-Mart with swinging for a cure

* Best team t-shirt — Loyd Star Attendance Center with TouchedBy An Angel

* Best team spirit — South Mississippi Home Care andHospice

The $10,000 raffle given away by One Family United AgainstCancer went to cancer survivor Pat Reed, captain of the Hearts andSouls team.