My article as published in the June 4, 2015 issue of The Mena Star
What more could you want than raising money for a wonderful cause at an all-night party with plenty of love, support and entertainment while fighting cancer? Cancer touches everyone: there is no one in Polk County that has not either had cancer or had loved ones, coworkers, or friends suffer from the disease.
Relay For Life of Polk County is an annual, local event that is part of the nationwide American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Relay is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember love ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
The 2015 Relay For Life of Polk County was record breaking in spite of the weather. Because of the rain the Relay was held in the Christian Motorcycle Association Iron Mountain Pavilion. Even though Polk County was under a tornado watch and a flash flood warning, the community came out and supported Relay. Sixteen teams raised over 7,100.00 during the all night event; a new record for Relay For Life in its nine year history here in Mena. So far this year over 87,000 dollars have been raised in Polk County to enable the American Cancer Society to help people stay well, help people get well, find cures, and fight back against cancer.
Relay For Life is more important than ever as we are seeing cuts in the amount the U.S. government is spending on cancer research. Privately funded research is going to have to take up the slack. The American Cancer Society is the largest private funder of cancer research, and Relay For Life is their largest fundraiser.
Relay For Life gives those who have claimed victory against cancer a chance to showcase they are a survivor, as well as recognize the importance of the caregivers who are so crucial in the battle as well.
At Relay, our motto is Cancer never sleeps, and one night a year neither do we. Relay symbolizes the experience of a cancer patient, beginning at 6 P.M. our survivors circle the track with lots of support.
As the night goes on there are fewer and fewer people there. The Relay goes on for twelve hours. We do one walk by candle light which represents the patient's darkest hour. By early morning the participants are worn and tired and the public has left. Cancer patients experience that weariness in their cancer struggle. When the morning light shines over the trees just before 6 A.M. and those Relay volunteers who have stayed all night take a final victory lap as Relay comes to an end, the symbolism is of a cancer patients cancer free diagnosis.
This year as Relay came to an end eight teams were still circling the track. Because cancer never sleeps, neither do Relayers.