Leaders eye new time for cancer event

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lincoln County Relay for Life officials have decided to set newtimes for the annual cancer walk, but the shift may not hold up tonational standards.

Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility Director Regina Terry said theannual walk to raise money for cancer research and treatment willbe held Saturday, May 2, from noon to midnight, a shift from theovernight hours that are standard for the event.

The decision to move the event into a one-day, 12-hour timeslotwas made by the local committee after last year’s heavy rainsforced the event to be pushed back from Friday night to all daySaturday, an unexpected adjustment that actually served to improvefundraising, she said.

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“We had a better turnout Saturday – we actually met and exceededthe goal,” Terry said. “We’re hoping it will make more money.That’s the goal.”

Terry said the committee made the move to allow walking teamsmore time to raise funds and more flexibility for attendance.

A Friday event, she said, causes too many people to miss work,and overnight stays are a safety issue. A Saturday event will allowfor more participation, she said.

“We’re getting older – we don’t like standing up all night,” shejoked.

But Kathy Prospere, a community representative with the AmericanCancer Society, said the cancer walk has to be held overnight inorder to meet ACS standards. She said holding the relay overnightaligns it with an ACS motto – “cancer does not sleep at night, andneither will we.”

“The relay is hard, and the reason why we do it is thesymbolism,” she said at the year’s first relay meetingWednesday.

Terry said the final decision on this year’s timeslot would bemade by the next meeting, which will be held at noon on Feb. 25 atJRF. Prospere said ACS would likely let Lincoln County bend therules this year in order not to hurt the event.

“I have one county where it rains every year, and we have it(the next day),” she said. “The ACS allows exceptions. In PikeCounty, we had a tornado one year.”

No matter what day the event is held, Lincoln County has 25-30experienced walking teams that are signed up and ready to go.Despite the rainstorm that almost crippled the walk last year,local teams reassembled the next morning to cap off a season inwhich $105,000 was raised.

“That’s wonderful. It’s kind of what we’ve held all theseyears,” Prospere said.

Last year, Lincoln joined other south Mississippi counties toraise $2.07 million, Prospere said. She said Mississippicontributed $5.18 million to the Mid-South region’s total of $42.7million.

The money raised is spent on cancer education, advocacy,research and services, Prospere said.