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Teams take fight to track

Marty Beeson had been familiar with Relay for Life for severalyears before he developed stage four colon cancer, but this year itmeant more than ever.

Beeson, a member of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, saidthat he had walked in the Relay for Life on his church’s team forseveral years, but that walking in it as a cancer survivor, stillundergoing chemotherapy, has been a new experience.

“We’d done it a couple of times through the church, before Icame down with the cancer,” he said, adding that the idea offinding a cure keeps him fighting. “I hope they find one. That’sthe whole reason I’m here.”

Friday night’s Relay for Life packed Exchange Club Park withpeople, from walkers to revelers to socializers, but all wereunited in the common cause of supporting the battle against cancer.Relay Chairman Regina Terry said that while the totals aren’t inand the economy will play a factor, event organizers still expect abig splash in the financial bucket.

“Lincoln County’s going to make a mark on the map. We usuallytop the surrounding area and I think we will this time, I reallydo,” she said. “They’re going to know we relayed, for sure.”

Twenty-three teams sent walkers to the track to walk for 12hours through the night, to represent how cancer doesn’t sleep.Event organizers said several new teams were involved this year,including “The Pink Sisters,” who have put together a growingmovement to support local women with breast cancer.

Terry said the event is a chance every year for people to gettogether and do something positive that allows them to fight thedisease that changes so many lives each day. This year was nodifferent.

“We were so excited, we thought it was a wonderful crowd,” shesaid. “We’re celebrating the lives of the people like Marty whohave won at this point, and are still here to celebrate with us;and we’re remembering the people who didn’t. We’re raising money tofight back, and I think hope ties it all in because without thathope of finding the cure and finding a way to live, we’d giveup.”

Bogue Chitto’s Stephen Travis said he just called his doctorthis week to thank her for the four years he’s been cancer-free asof Wednesday.

“It’s all about proving to people that you can beat cancer ifyou put your mind to it,” he said. “You just have to pray about it,talk to the Lord, and get to the church as much as you possiblycan.”

It’s the sharing of common ground that makes Relay a big eventevery year, Terry said. People of all different backgrounds cancome together and talk about their experiences and their personalbattles, and they can draw support and encouragement from eachother.

“I think Relay allows us to openly talk about something we don’tnecessarily want to talk about. When we all have the Relay incommon it pulls us together, it’s a common link,” she said. “It’sso comforting to people who have lost someone to be able to dosomething in honor of that special person who have lost the fight,and for people going through the battle to share it.”