It was a chilly weekend, but Yadkin County Relay for Life warmed things up with a beach-themed party and dinner in honor of cancer survivors on Saturday. The event is an annual one for the group and almost as highly anticipated each year as is the actual Relay event.
“It is so humbling to look out over everybody and see all the survivors sitting out here, and their caregivers,” said Christi Matthews, a committee member and organizer for the dinner. “I was a caregiver at one time and they need recognition too, they do a whole lot. It’s amazing what the survivors have been through, what they’ve overcome and that their able to come out and be recognized and I think it’s great to just give them their own night.”
Relay for Life Community Manager Allison Reeves said that around 200 guests were expected for the dinner. Local TV newscaster Margaret Johnson served as the guest speaker for the event. Jeremiah Wood, a former contestant on the popular reality show “Survivor,” also made a surprise guest appearance. The Mount Airy Shaggers performed and invited guests to dance to beach music following the dinner.
BBQ for the event was donated by Jeffery Smith of Smith Farms in memory of his mother. Little Richards also donated slaw for the event. Matthews said there is a lot of community support for Relay and especially the survivor dinner.
For survivors like Frances Wooten, who attended the dinner, it’s “all about finding an end to cancer.” Wooten said it was heartbreaking when she had to watch her grandfather suffer from bone cancer. Years later, she herself battled cancer as well.
“We just need to find a cure for it. I don’t want any of my children to have to hear that word,” Wooten said.
Freda Styers, a member of the Relay for Life committee and a survivor, said the event made her feel special.
“I’m just very thankful to be here and that there are people willing to give their time and their money to try to find a cure,” she said.
It’s also a chance to share the important message of early detection, said survivor Shelia Vogler.
“When I turned 40 I did my first mammogram and they found it then. It was real small and it does pay off the earlier you can catch it,” Vogler said.
Things will be kicking into high gear for Yadkin County Relay for Life now.
“Tonight’s event really kicks off where we’re going with Relay for Life,” said organizer David Cox. “We’re really excited because on May 13 well be having our big event. We’ve got more and more fundraisers happening with our teams. We’re still trying to reach our goal.”
The Yadkin County Relay for Life event will take place at Forbush High School on May 13 with a beach music band and lots of fun, plus more opportunities to raise funds for the American Cancer Society for research and cancer-related programming.
Check the Relay for Life Yadkin County Facebook page for details on upcoming fundraisers and more opportunities to get involved.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.