June 25, 2010 - Relay for Life in Blairsville, Georgia
In the words of Allyson McGraw, “The weather is hot but we are going to do this!” With that announcement, hundreds of folks began walking on the track in Blairsville, Georgia.
Cancer survivors, friends, family, children, teenagers, and senior citizens participated in the recent Relay for Life – Union County 2010. With temperatures soaring into the 90’s, thunderstorms in the forecast, and an off limits football field, the teams never faltered for one minute. Grabbing a spot of shade whenever possible, young and old came out to support the largest fundraiser of the year.
The theme of this year’s Relay for Life is, “Creating a world with more birthdays.” Creating a world with more birthdays is the goal of the American Cancer Society. According to the ACS, “Cancer rates are on the decline and more people are surviving this disease every year. Now, for the first time, cancer is not an end, but the beginning of an era of hope for families.”
During the event, survivors were honored. As the official program states, “Survivors, you are the heart of Relay. We do this all for you. You give us hope, joy and a reason to Relay. Thank you for inspiring us all through your lives.”
The Relay for Life Committee includes Erin Cross, Mia Crowe, Nicole Duncan, Crystal Dockery, Alta Foster, Janet Hartman, Stacy Head, Sandy Kidd, Tracy King, Vee Laffoon, Allyson McGraw, Marla McKinniss, Carolyn Morrell, Betty Moshier, Nancy Jones, Paula Pendleton, Judy Rich, Barbara Richardson, Joanne Sales, Tonya Stroman, and Sue Upchurch.This committee works hard all year, not just on the weekend of the Relay. They are out there washing cars, baking cookies, selling daffodils, and going door-to-door to raise money. To all of them and the many other caring people that donate time and money, THANK YOU! Because of you, lives are saved and lives are changed. Also thanks to Reverend Tim Moore from Young Harris College, DJ/Announcer Desmond Thomas, NE GA Dermatology (Dr. Scallan), the Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts, food vendors, Jimmy the Clown, entertainers, sponsors, teams, survivors, caregivers, guests, and everyone else that make the Union County Relay possible.
June 27, 2007 - Relay for Life celebrates life in Blairsville, Georgia
Relay for Life is a way to celebrate life while raising money to fight cancer. Volunteers, family members, cancer survivors, and other participants join together every year at the Union County High School track for the all night event. So far in 2007 the event has collected over $121,500. The exact total will be announced at the July 16 th Wrap-Up Victory Celebration.
Friends, neighbors, and co-workers march around the Union County High School track from Friday afternoon until Saturday morning. Between laps many walkers stop to visit various tents and food booths or to grab a bottle of water. During the night strangers become friends as they share stories about surviving cancer or loosing loved ones to the disease. People laugh, cry, and hug each other. The one thing they all say is, "We will never give up."
"This was the best year ever," says Planning Event Co-Chair Allyson McGraw. "I counted a total of 71 individuals representing 12 teams on the track between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. To me that was a sign that our teams and volunteers had gotten the message. Cancer never sleeps!"
The Blairsville, Georgia event began back in 1995 with ten teams and now has 31 support and on-site teams representing nearly 500 individuals from Union County. The local Relay for Life in Blairsville, Georgia gets bigger and better every year.
The highlight of the event in Union County was the Candle Lighting or Luminaria Ceremony. The ceremony was held just as the sun was setting behind the home stands and was a time for silent reflection and prayer. During this time, the names and photos of many being honored were scrolled on a giant inflatable movie screen.
Special Guest Entertainer this year was Mr. Kim Armstrong from Stone Mountain, Georgia. His lively line dancing drew a crowd of young people and adults to the middle of the ball field. Several survivors including Cheryl Damon of Blairsville, Georgia and Gladys Long of Ellijay, Georgia participated.
There were many tears of joy and sadness during the 2007 Relay for Life. Most spectators will never forget the First United Methodist Church group walking in memory of Linda Bridges who passed away just that morning.
The Wrap-Up Victory Celebration will be held at the Southern Tree Plantation on July 16th in Blairsville, Georgia. Team members, volunteers and sponsors are reminded to RSVP to Betty Moshier as soon as possible.
Relay for Life 2006 in Blairsville, Georgia
The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Union County is a success year after year. Many local citizens work hard to make the Relay for Life one of the largest fundraising events in Blairsville.
On June 23, 2006, the Relay for Life began its 12th year of participation in this world-class relay. Booths were set up, cancer survivors shared their stories, and teams walked all night long in Blairsville, Georgia. Fun activities for children and adults went on until early the next morning.
There is a good reason that the event goes on all night long. According to the program, "You celebrate life in the daylight knowing that the darkness of nighttime is behind you." That is how a cancer survivor feels when treatment works, the appetite returns, tumors shrink, and hope returns.
Cancer survivors and their caretakers were welcomed into the survivor's tent by Relay for Life's staff member Dana Stephens Craig. She presented each survivor with a t-shirt and survivor bag to fill with goodies donated by teams and sponsors of the event. The survivors also signed a banner that will be displayed in Washington D.C. later this year.
Money raised during the Union County Relay for Life goes to the American Cancer Society. It helps fund research, education, advocacy, and service. Research funding has totaled more than $130 million this year. Other funding goes to programs that educate the public about various issues including the importance of regular mammograms, the harmful effects of tobacco, and how to cope with physical and emotional challenges. Money also goes to advocate issues on the political front like pushing for increased federal funding to allow low-income women access to breast and cervical cancer screenings. American Cancer Society funding also supports various service projects including the Hope Lodges, the Road to Recovery, and Look Good Feel Better sessions.