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From dusk until dawn
2007 Bulloch County Relay for Life unites community in effort to raise funds to battle cancer
042007 RELAY FOR LIFE 1
Participants in Friday's Relay for Life event walk beneath an arch of baloons as the sun sets over the Kiwanas-Ogeechee Fairgrounds. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

042007 RELAY FOR LIFE

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Thousands of luminaries honoring cancer victims lined the track Friday night at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds as people watched survivors make the first lap of the all-night Bulloch County Relay for Life.
    Erin Haskins, a pre-teen cancer victim whose bright spirit has touched the hearts of many, led the pack in a sporty little convertible. She waved with a bright smile as others walked behind her, proud to have survived the battle against cancer.
    The survivors were of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Some walked briskly while others rode golf carts. Everyone cheered and clapped as they went past.
    The survivor lap kicked off the night's festivities as team members took turns walking around the track. Teams decorated camp sites that were later judged; offered games, food and other things like raffle tickets to raise money for a cure for cancer.
    Mill Creek Elementary pre-kindergarten teacher Heather Martin went a step further after the school's team exceeded its goal of $5,000.
    When the total rose to about $600 over the goal, Martin knew she would be making good on the promise to shave her head if the team succeeded.
    "It's the first time Mill Creek ever had a team," she said. "I'm not afraid (of having her head shaved). It's just hair. It will grow back and it's for a great cause."
    Her husband Alex did the honors at the Mill Creek camp around 8 p.m. Friday.
    Would she wear a wig? "Our team captain Betty Chester, a survivor, loaned me her wig," she said with a laugh.
    The school held fund raisers such as selling smoothies, baked goods and chicken biscuits to achieve their goal.
    Most teams picked a state as their theme for the year, then decorated the camp site according to that theme. The Survivors tent chose Wisconsin and decorated with cows. They offered cheese to visitors.
    First Southern National Bank's theme was "Jazz it up for a Cure," and had a blues player luring visitors for some jazzy music. Next door, some country guitar pickers gave him some competition, as the Farmers and Merchants Bank team chose Tennessee as its theme, complete with the Nashville tour and a Dolly Parton cutout.
    Both  Stilson Elementary School and Friendship Baptist Church chose Kentucky, with a "Racing for a Cure" theme. The school had cardboard horses racing, and the church offered a variety of food for sale.
    Langston Chapel Middle School offered a chance to shoot five hoops of basketball for a dollar, and offered foot rubs for $5. Their sports theme was "Team Cancer has been benched."
    Some walked, some rested, some ate, some played. Games of Frisbee and football were going on in the infield, and Carol Simons sat enjoying the music while her granddaughter, Kaitlyn Coleman, walked in honor of her great-grandmother, who suffered both breast and colon cancer.
    "She's not on a team," Simons said. "She just wanted to walk."
    Ted Wynn, chairman for the 2007 Bulloch County Relay for Life, said he was excited about the crowd and hoped the county would top last year's total.
    "Bulloch County was number five nationwide for last year," he said. "This year we hope to do even better than that."
    As songs like "Power of Love" and "Sunshiny Day" piped out over loudspeakers, people walked and socialized, some leading dogs on leashes and others pulling wagons filled with tiny tots.
    Keisha Campell has a tiny tot of her own, son Jaden, who appeared to enjoy the activity as he gave a visitor a wide smile. Campbell said she was with her aunt, a team member.
    "It's a good cause, for a good purpose," she said about the event. Like many others, cancer has touched her life - her grandmother suffered ovarian cancer.
    Hazel Minick, a five-year survivor of skin cancer, was obviously enjoying a walk with fellow survivor Donna Kay Edmonds, who has survived breast cancer for four years.
    "I think it's exciting," Minick said about the Relay for Life. "It gets whole families and friends of families involved and it's a great outing for everybody."
    "It's wonderful," Edmonds said. "It's a most emotional, inspiring time, and people get to see you do survive cancer."
    The Relay took place all night long, with special announcements, entertainment and more throughout the night.
 
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