Thursday, June 14, 2007
Community spirit, unity
Cancer has basically touched us all.
No doubt we’ve all lost friends or loved ones to the terrible disease, have acquaintances who have fought it successfully, or we know of those who are suffering from it at this time and perhaps taking treatments.
It is no respecter of persons.
It can hit anyone, at any time.
The search for a cure continues, and this past weekend, hundreds of Marshall Countians came together in a united effort to pay tribute to those who have died, honor those who have survived and encourage those who are still battling.
The annual Relay for Life was held at Sam Coopwood Park in Holly Springs. The rains came a couple of hours before it started. We needed more, but the weather broke for this important event - 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The showers provided more comfortable temperatures, and a great crowd was on hand. Some stayed all night; others left early; all contributed to Relay for Life’s success.
By participating, we all demonstrate the power to continue the American Cancer Society’s progress toward a future where cancer doesn’t take the lives of our friends and family.
That’s the primary purpose of Relay for Life - cancer awareness and the quest for a cure.
Highlighting the evening was a luminaria Ceremony of Hope held after dark to honor cancer survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer. The luminaria candles lined the track and were left burning throughout the night to remind participants of the incredible importance of their contributions.
My 13-year-old son Andy said he walked the track and read every single name. I didn’t do that myself – but should have made the extra effort.
The tribute helps everyone remember and cherish the lives of loved ones.
The assets of Relay for Life also include a word mentioned earlier – unity. It’s perhaps the one time in the year that people of all walks of life in a community come together in a common cause and share good fellowship. It’s a beautiful site to behold.
Friends, families, businesses, churches, clubs, office groups, others participate. The spirit and enthusiasm on display at the event are uplifting and encouraging.
Tents lined the outer boundary of the football field at Sam Coopwood Park Friday night and early Saturday morning. Smoke bellowed from the various barbecue grills. It was rather loud - only because the laughs, the conversations, the enjoyment were plentiful and wonderful.
Children were having fun – organized games at one end of the field, not-so-organized touch football games in the center, batting balloons in the air and catching them, and I even saw a game of croquet.
Adults were walking together around the field, some holding hands, but all with loads of smiles. Some even made laps with new friends or folks they don’t get to spend time with on a regular basis.
People were visiting – going from tent to tent.
The entertainment and the emceeing were great, too.
It was a wonderful night for our community.
Plenty of praise should go to the organizers of Marshall County’s Relay for Life. It takes year-around planning and lots of hard work, and the committee of volunteers deserves congratulations for a job well done.
And thanks to all of those who organized teams and contributed to the success of this year’s event. That, too, is a year-around endeavor for most.
There are more than 4,800 Relays nationwide. It’s the largest fund-raising event in mankind’s history.
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