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Relay for Life has successful year

A sizeable crowd, good weather and successful fund raisingmarked a good night for the annual Lincoln County Relay for Lifeevent Friday and Saturday at the Brookhaven Exchange Club Park.

Over $80,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society duringthis year’s event, surpassing organizers’ goals for the Relay,according to co-chairperson Terry Watkins.

“I think it was a great success. Last year we raised a littleover $76,000, so we’re a little excited about raising more thanthat this year,” she said.

A crowd estimated at 4,000 showed up for the event, which beganat 7 p.m. Friday and lasted until daylight Saturday. Dozens ofpeople filled the track at all hours, while children enjoyed thepark’s rides for a few hours Friday. Children were able to ridethem countless times for the cost of buying one arm band.Volunteers from the Exchange Club worked the rides as a way to helpraise money for Relay for Life.

The high number of participants also extended to cancersurvivors. Watkins said over 60 survivors had signed up, butorganizers believe there were even more than that present.

“We probably had close to 80 survivors,” said co-chairperson KimBridge.

According to Bridge, a ‘survivor’ is considered anyone who hasalready won the battle against cancer as well as anyone who hasbeen diagnosed with cancer.

“We had a good turnout for survivors,” agreed Betty Rushing. Sheand Watkins, who are sisters, are part of One Family United AgainstCancer, one of the many teams set up at the Relay.

Rushing said her family’s team consisted of four sisters, alongwith many nieces and nephews. Like many of the teams present,theirs was formed as a result of having an encounter of their ownwith cancer.

“We lost a brother, a sister-in-law and a sister to cancer,”said Rushing. “We just hope we can raise even more money nextyear.”

This year’s Relay for Life was held in memory of Dennis Robertsand Pat Smith. A luminary service allowed the community to rememberthose who had lost their battle with cancer, which serves as amotivation behind the fund raiser to support cancer research.

Each year, Relay organizers set a goal for the fund raisingefforts of the teams involved. Bridge agreed that this year’s Relaywas a huge success.

“We surpassed our goal of $74,000,” he said.

He also noted that 21 teams set up sites at the event. The teamsput up tents and sold items to further benefit the American CancerSociety. The tents also served as a gathering place for teammembers who took turns walking around the track.

Each team must have at least one person on the track at alltimes during the 12-hour event.

Bridge continued by saying that there were several new teamsthis year. Among those present were four churches, whose youthgroups added substantially to the attendance.

“The turnout this year was exceptional. The Lord was great to usat all our activities,” said Bridge.

Participants stayed motivated throughout the night withentertainment and fun contests.

The Relay for Life’s basis for being held overnight, accordingto Bridge, is “cancer never sleeps, so we won’t either.”

Bridge expressed his appreciation to the community for itssupport, as well as the Relay’s sponsors and the local employersand supervisors who made allowances for their employees toparticipate in the fund raising.