It looks like this year’s Relay for Life event at Raider Stadium will out-earn the 2011 fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Last year, the event pulled in almost $100k, and this year is expected to exceed that marker.
“It looks like it will be more than $100,000 this year,” said Linda Bayless, Richmond County Relay co-chair. “We won’t be certain exactly how much we raised until around the end of June, when all of the money has been collected.”
Bayless said the crowd on Friday “was the largest we’ve ever had.” Almost every vendor sold out of food by the end of the night.
The line snaked around the side of the stadium before pouring a steady stream of people onto the track, where most took an immediate lap to check out the scenery.
People drifted from tempting barbecue to groups of friends, as the sun set over the stadium.
A sea of purple shirts congregated for the “survivor lap” around the track; some cancer free for years, and others only a matter of weeks.
“Relay for Life represents hope for a cure,” said Rachelle Bolger, of Rockingham.
“It represents hope of getting rid of this dreaded disease,” said Terry Lamont, of Hamlet. “My mother and other family members died from cancer, and I want to see an end to it.”
“Relay is a way for the community to come together and help cancer patients — my wife had cancer,” said Mike Threadgill, of Rockingham.
Hope and community were the threads bringing everyone at the event together for a common cause.
“When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, his prayer was to see his new baby go to kindergarten. His six month prognosis turned into six years,” said guest speaker Lisa Ledford. “It was truly an answered prayer. Our son Patrick just organized his first Relay for Life event at Guilford College.”
There was hardly a person to be found who had not been affected, in some way, by the disease.
“Relay is a time for people to gather together for one cause,” said Wanda Ussery, of Rockingham. “I’m a survivor, and it just makes you more aware.”
“I lost a best friend to cancer last year,” said Teresa Eteo, of Rockingham. “She was only 36. Awareness and a cure are very important to me.”
The event lasted well into the evening on Friday, and when participants tired of walking they settled onto bleachers, lawn chairs and grass to watch the stars light up the sky.
A follow-up meeting will be held on May 22 at Sandhills Regional Medical Center at 6 p.m. Teams and individuals wishing to turn in additional funds at that time are welcome to join. Otherwise, additional funds can be turned in to Linda Bayless. She can be contacted at 910-582-8613.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org