By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Relay brings fun, folks and funds
Event brings huge crowd to fairgrounds
W 042817 RELAY FOR LIFE 01
Wilma Hill, 68, right, and Kathy Allen, 75, enjoy one another's company as they hitch a ride for the traditional Survivors' Walk to kick off the 2017 Relay for Life at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds Friday. Hill is a one-year cancer survivor and Allen is a 29-year survivor.

They rocked in chairs under a tent, enjoying the cool breeze from fans as they swapped stories about their individual battles with cancer.

Senior citizens rubbed elbows with teenagers and young adults from all walks of life, each different but with one thing in common; they survived the deadly disease. Many continue the fight.

While they visited, others walked round a track, visiting team camps and donated money for various things to raise money to help beat the disease.

The 2017 Bulloch County Relay for Life drew hordes of people Friday night who each had a different reason for participating. The annual fund raiser brings thousands of dollars to help fund research for a cure.

Held at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Highway 67, the event allowed teams to raise money by setting up “camps,” judged by adherence to the theme (this year it was Dr. Seuss). Teams sold hamburgers, pizza, popcorn, drinks, baked goods, toys, tee shirts and candy. Some had games like the “Grinch” beanbag toss. Another team had a slogan “One fish, two fish, I wish for a cure for cancer,” playing off Seuss’s “One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” book.

Other teams held raffles, such as the Georgia Power Company, which raffled off a tailgate package.

“We are here to raise money for cancer research,” said employee Cicely Sikes. “Georgia Power believes in finding a cure, and we believe in cancer survivors.”

Her father was recently diagnosed with cancer, and Sikes lost her grandmother to the disease. “This definitely means something different to me this year,” she said.

Taylor Mobley, with the Georgia Southern honor society Gamma Beta Phi, offered a variety of ways to donate, including allowing people to hang ribbons on a tree in memory of someone who died from cancer or still fighting.

The sorority “focuses on service, and this is our biggest event every year,” she said, adding that the group raises money for cancer research every year.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority member Jeanne Whitley said her group was inspired to begin participating in the Relay for Life when a sorority sister lost a leg to cancer. “This is very close to our hearts,” she said. “We are very passionate about this.”

But nine are so passionate as those who have heard a doctor say those three word: “You have cancer.”

Barbara Brooks has had several skin cancers removed, and her husband LeGrande Brooks is a prostate cancer survivor, she said.

“Relay for Life is a big support,” she said a she visited the Survivor’s Tent, where survivor registered, received tee shirts and other girts and rested during the relay. . “The American Cancer Society stands behind you. It just means a lot.”

Mary L. Martin agreed. She has survived breast cancer since 2007.

“I enjoy it,” she said,. “I like to walk and exercise, and this is good because it teaches people so much and they understand it.”

When she was first diagnosed, “It scared me,” she said. “But when I learned more through the American Cancer Society, I put it all behind me.”

The night was filled with live music, announcements of team contests, and recognitions. At the beginning of the event, the opening ceremony included a live solo of the National Anthem. The cries of the Georgia Southern University mascot, a bald eagle named Freedom, could be herd echoing across the track during the performance, and afterward, Freedom gave flight in a majestic display before returning to handler Steve Hein.

The event lasted for hours, with participants walking around a track lined with luminaries in honor of those who survived cancer and in memory of those who did not.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.








Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter