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Local banks help make Relay for Life happen

For Relay for Life to be successful, it requires teamwork. One community group that always pitches in might sometimes be overlooked: local banks.

“CB&S Bank has been involved in the Franklin County Relay for Life for as long as we can remember – over 25 years,” said Chris Latham, who helps coordinate CB&S’ efforts. “CB&S Bank proudly supports Relay for Life in honor of CB&S Bank employees and community members who are cancer survivors and in memory of those who have lost their battle far too soon.”

Most community banks tell a similar story about their reasons for involvement.

“We know that cancer touches everyone,” said Emily Mays, with Community Spirit Bank. “Whether it’s a personal battle, family, friend or co-worker, everyone is affected in some way by this disease. We have members of our team and families that have fought the cancer battle multiple times. Being part of Relay for Life is a way we can help fight for a cure.”

Local banks – including Valley State, First Metro and Bank Independent, in addition to Community Spirit and CB&S – rotate one duty in particular each year: sponsoring the survivor dinner, with precedes the main night of Relay for Life and honors – as the name suggests – survivors of cancer and their caregivers.

“We are honored to be able to participate in the annual survivor’s dinner. This event celebrates life in its truest form, as a survivor has seen the value of life and its struggles firsthand,” Latham said. “These brave individuals have fought hard and have overcome many obstacles to be able to celebrate with us at the dinner. To us, this is one of the most important aspects of the Relay event. We are all working together to create more survivors than ever before, while remembering those who lost their battles too soon.”

Community Spirit Bank was last year’s dinner sponsor.

“We were thrilled with the opportunity to sponsor the 2015 survivor dinner,” Mays said. “Providing a meal for our Franklin County survivors is one small way to let them know we’re behind them. It is truly a night filled with wonderful fellowship and inspiration.

“Serving our community members at this event was a very awe-inspiring, humbling experience for our team,” Mays added. “Franklin County is certainly home to some extraordinary people having fought, or still fighting their cancer battle.”

Jerra Dover, with First Metro Bank, said the company looks forward to hosting the survivor dinner, as well. “Several members of the First Metro Bank family are a survivor or a caretaker for someone diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “Behind every survivor in our community and around the world, there is a moving story to be told. At First Metro Bank, we admire the strength and perseverance of cancer survivors to tell their story while encouraging those currently fighting cancer.”

Another CB&S Bank employee who is actively involved in Relay is Tim Alford, who has been involved since 2002 and became the events emcee in 2011, a role he has filled every year since.

“Relay for Life is something that has been close to my heart for a number of years,” Alford said. “My wife is a cancer survivor. Her father was a three-time cancer survivor, and unfortunately, we lost my mother-in-law to cancer in 2011.” Alford said his grandmother died of cancer, also, and he has a number of friends and co-workers who have battled cancer over the years. “Being involved with Relay is something that is fulfilling and rewarding and is really just a natural fit for me.”

As the emcee for the evening, Alford said he cherishes being able to “stand on stage looking out at the team campsites and the line of survivors and caregivers who walk to the cheers and applause of those in attendance.” It “brings me a hope that one day this disease will be only a memory.”

Latham said Relay for Life is all about hope.

“Together with teams far and wide, CB&S Bank represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated,” Latham said. “The bank is involved locally by sponsoring the event, raising money as a team, setting up a booth on Relay night and volunteering at the event whenever possible to make the overall fundraiser as successful as possible. We do several fundraisers throughout the year to benefit Relay for Life, and we ensure community members have a chance to get involved and have fun with us. On average, we have 15 to 20 people participate in the Franklin County event.”

Community Spirit Bank also boasts heavy involvement with its 40 employees, who all participate each year.

“We donate $1 every Friday to wear our jeans, and we take up donations, do T-shirt sales, sell luminaries and make a corporate contribution,” Mays said.

The luminaries are part of a unique Relay for Life ceremony, Alford said.

“Perhaps the biggest reminder of the unbiased cruelty of this disease is the luminary ceremony, where victims of cancer are remembered and honored for their heroic fight,” he said. “This special ceremony is both sobering and a motivating reminder that together we beat cancer.”

For more information, check out Franklin County Relay for Life on Facebook.