Franklin County relays
By Macy Reeves
For the FCT
This year’s Relay for Life was definitely a different one. The first major change was the location. Instead of the usual high school field walk, participants gathered downtown to support the cause. Although some said they missed the traditional spot, many people liked and even preferred this location.
“I like it. It’s more community- and family-oriented.” said Jason Miller, who has been a Relay for Life participant for four years because of an uncle who is a survivor of cancer.
Downtown benefits included a more focused event area, where families and teams could stay together more easily, and music – provided this year by Rewind – could be easily heard.
However, there were some who like the Russellville High School football field as opposed to the blocked off area downtown.
“I like the high school better.” said George Hutto, a seven year cancer survivor and a Relay for Life participant for six.
The center of operations was the pavilion in the First Baptist parking lot. People came in and out, buying T-shirts and getting stickers and ribbons, while still feeling as though they were not excluded from the event.
“It’s great,” said Cassie Medley. “We’re more together. It is an adjustment, but I think people like it.”
Relay for Life kicked off with the walk of survivors, a powerful statement by people of a range of ages who grouped together in confidence and to take a bold walk of overcoming such a deadly disease. Following the walk of the survivors was the caregivers’ walk, for the men and women who have sacrificed to help family members and friends fight and overcome cancer. Some were even cancer survivors themselves.
After the survivors’ walk and the caregivers’ walk, the fun began. Children played on inflatables, and everyone walked around to see the vendors as well as buy some great food, but it mainly gave everyone time to prepare for the Luminaria Ceremony. People had time to purchase, fill and place their bags in preparation for the lighting.
Near the end of the night, emcee Tim Alford announced for participants to light their bags with their glow sticks and remember those who had battled cancer.
Finally, to finish the night off, awards were given out to the vendors and teams. Best Campsites went to (first place) Russellville Hospital, (second place) Russellville Civitan Club and (third place) Burns Nursing Home. In the best shirt contest, first place went to Community Spirit Bank; second place went to Gettin’ it together for Gladys; and third place went to First Baptist Church. The Top Church Team was St. Paul Missionary Baptist; Top Community Team was Team Red Bay; the Rookie Team was Pilgrim’s; Top Business was Russellville Hospital; and Overall Fundraiser was St. Paul Missionary Baptist. The Jimmy Fleming Spirit of Relay Award went to Kolby Stidham from Generations of Red Bay, which participated for its first year this year. The Franklin County Volunteers of the Year were Larry and Janice Dobber.
Overall this year’s Relay for Life fundraising total came in at $104,435. Relay coordinator Anna Duncan and all the volunteers will keep fundraising until Aug. 3, but the total already earned has been turned into the American Cancer Society – where it will make a difference.