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Relay raises $76,000 for cancer society

Parking spaces were in short supply Friday night at theBrookhaven Exchange Club Park as more than 2,000 people showedtheir support for the annual Relay for Life to benefit the AmericanCancer Society.

“The turnout couldn’t have been any better. I think it’s thebest we’ve ever had,” said Amy Rhoads, Relay for Lifeco-chairwoman.

Despite some early Saturday morning rainfall, the crowded eventraised more than $76,000 for the American Cancer Society.

“I’m glad the rain held off as long as it did,” said Rhoads.

Event organizers said lightning and thunder caused the event toend two hours early. As the thunderstorm began to descend on thearea around 5 a.m., Kim Bridge asked the 25 teams on hand for thefund-raiser to get to safety.

The park was cleared out within an hour, but event organizersreported that most activities were already completed by thattime.

“We had the hoola hoop contest, the dirty shoe contest, thesidewalk chalk contest, and the midnight snack, where each teamprepared a snack that was related to their theme, like the Texastent grilled a steak,” said Rhoads.

Each tent was elaborately decorated portraying vacation spots,from Nashville to Australia. Most teams donned matching shirts andcarried signs or “spirit sticks” to make the 12-hour walk-a-thoneven more lively.

“It was a fun night,” said co-chairwoman Melissa Hester. “Thecommunity support was great and everyone had a good time.”

Awards for the best tent, best spirit stick, most money raised,most laps, and best T-shirt were supposed to be decided upon andgiven out at the close of the event. Due to the thunderstorm, theawards will be announced at a later date, according to eventorganizers.

Other activities that highlighted the night included thesurvivors dinner prior to the start of the walk. The 78 cancersurvivors then led the first lap of the event, held in memory ofVoncille Allen and Mary Wallace.

Brookhaven Exchange Club members volunteered their services andrides to raise money for the cancer society from 7-10 p.m.

“The rides were a big success and a great fund-raiser. We reallyappreciate the support from the exchange club,” said Hester.

Voncille Allen, who died in July 2002, was a longtime volunteerfor the American Cancer Society. She participated in the firstLincoln County Relay for Life.

Mary Wallace was also very involved in raising money for ACSthrough the relay.

“To momma, the relay was more than just a way to raise money, itwas a passion,” said Robin Webb, one of Wallace’s daughters.

Throughout the event teams raised money by selling food andattracting people to their tents with other interesting ways toenjoy the night.

A mechanical bull at one of the tents created a lot ofexcitement and quickly became a hot spot. Relay participants alsoenjoyed hairstyles by a local beautician volunteering herservices.

“Every year the teams get more creative,” said Rhoads. “We’relooking forward to next year’s relay and hope it will be bigger andbetter.”