By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
An estimated 2,500 people will gather at the Tarboro High School football field this evening to fight back against the No. 1 killer of Edgecombe County residents – cancer.
Edgecombe County’s 17th Annual Relay for Life will kick off with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. As of Thursday, 408 people and 38 teams had registered for Relay.
“We are supported by the community really, really well,” said Susan New, co-chair of this year’s Relay. The annual national event is American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser.
Relay won’t end until 9 a.m. Saturday with a final victory lap. Relay team members will walk around the track all through the night, with “theme walks” for each team beginning at midnight.
“Because cancer never sleeps, cancer doesn’t stop, neither do we,” said New. Relay is a visual representation of lives touched by cancer. Cancer survivors and caregivers will walk around the track during the first hour of the event. A luminary ceremony at 9 p.m. will celebrate loved ones’ victories over cancer while honoring the memory of those who lost the battle with the disease. Loss of loved ones to cancer is what got Stephen Eason, Relay co-chair, involved in Relay.
“I wanted to do something positive,” he said. This is Eason’s sixth year of Relay and he now refers to those who share in the event as the “Edgecombe County Relay for Life Family.”
“My favorite part about Relay is the fellowship, just seeing everybody come together with one vision,” said Eason. That vision is finding a cure for cancer one day. The theme for this year’s Relay is “If you wish upon a star, a cure for cancer won’t be far.”
New loves getting to know the cancer survivors and the caregivers and families at Relay.
“When you see them out, you can still relate to them and their stories,” New said. “A lot of friendships are made at Relay.”
New called Relay a “family-friendly” event complete with “lots of food and fun.” Children at Relay will have an opportunity to play in the bounce houses and participate in a kids’ walk at 7 p.m. Activities for the adults include Bingo and a bra and boxer decorating contest.
“That is to promote awareness of breast and prostate cancer,” said New. An additional contest at Relay is a wig head decorated contest; wigs will be donated to the cancer center at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital.
Relay has been successful in Edgecombe County over the years. In 2010 the county’s Relay was in the top 10 nationwide per capita for funds raised. In 2012, the local Relay received an award for reaching the “$200,000 club” for funds raised, according to New.