The annual Galax-Carroll Relay For Life returns Friday at Carroll County High School (CCHS) with its mix of celebration and remembrance for local cancer survivors and those battling cancer.
Proceeds from the event go to benefit the American Cancer Society’s research for a cure and support for local families. The Society’s website reports yearly more than 4 million people in 20 countries raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the movement. Its approach is simply to remember those lost to the disease, honor people who have fought or are fighting the disease, and inspire participants to take action against a disease which has taken too much from families.
Relay Chairman Ronald Newman said cancer battler Kiena Williams will serve as the guest speaker at the event this year, telling participants about her own personal challenges with the disease. He said Carroll County and Galax have had several very young cancer victims lately. Some of these children will serve as Grand Marshals and lead the survivor lap.
The annual Galax-Carroll Relay For Life Survivor’s Banquet is set for July 20 at the Hillsville First United Methodist Church from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Participants are encouraged to contact Newman if they plan to attend to allow for planning the meal.
Relay will once again be held at Tommy Thompson Field beginning at 6 p.m. with an opening prayer. A flag ceremony will be held by the CCHS Junior Army Officers Training Corps and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by a local troop of Girl Scouts.
According to Newman, Survivors will take the first lap of the relay at about 6:30 p.m. Various activities will be offered all through the night including a children’s walk set for 7:30 p.m. He said this event returns to Relay after a three-year hiatus. One of the most poignant and iconic parts of Relay For Life, the luminaries ceremony, is set for 9:30 p.m.
“People may purchase the white bag luminary in honor or in memory of a cancer victim,” said Newman. “The cost is $5 per bag and the bags are arranged around the CCHS track. Candles inside of the bags are lit before the ceremony. The stadium lights are turned out and the names of victims or those honored with a luminary are read our loud.”
He said people interested in purchasing a luminary or support of any of the teams by contact him at 276-733-8723. Luminaries can also be purchased the day of the Relay (up to 7 p.m.). Organizers are also interested volunteers to help set the bags up around the track. Local quilter Ann Choate has constructed quilts from previous year’s Relay tee shirts to be raffled off with the proceeds benefiting the movement.
“We plan to have activities for children including a bouncy house and face painting,” Newman said. He said he has been involved with Relay for more than 10 years. Newman first became involved with the movement in 2005 when his father, the late Donald Newman, was diagnosed with the disease.
Newman said the fundraising goal this year has been set at $73,000 with donations running $30,000 shy of that mark at the time of this article. He encouraged everyone to make donations to help people fight the disease. He also stressed that Relay offers a variety of services to support families of cancer victims and survivors.
“Before I became involved I didn’t know Relay For Life is open for everyone to walk and look at the luminaries,” said Newman. “I was under the impression you had to have cancer or have someone diagnosed with cancer in your family but that is not the case. We encourage everyone to attend.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.