Thousands banded together Friday night in the fight against cancer as survivors joined with supporters to raise money to fight the disease and to remember those who lost their battles.
The 10th annual Relay for Life enjoyed a cool evening as events carried on at Nunley Stadium from Friday evening until sunrise Saturday morning in what some believe was a record crowd. While a final number will not be available until later in the week when all money is turned in, the running total just past midnight Saturday morning was $81,535.
“Last year Warren County was eighth in the nation per capita in money raised for Relay for Life,” said Relay spokesperson Ashley Wright, noting several visitors from other parts of the country told her Warren County’s Relay was the best they have attended.
The event kicked off Friday evening with the survivor lap where cancer survivors walked in unison to show that the disease can be beaten. Supporters ringed the track at Nunley Stadium applauding the survivors as they walked the lap.
Later in the evening the solemn luminaria ceremony saw the lights of the stadium turned down and the lighting of candles as 439 names were read of those who have battled the disease. The stadium was illuminated only by the glowing bags each with a name of a person whose life has been affected by cancer. The reading was ended by the releasing of lighted balloons. In the meantime the lighted display which read “Hope” on the visitor side of the stadium was changed to read “Cure.”
Intertwined with the highlighted ceremonies were numerous fund-raising events and concessions. Food booths, games and activities were found throughout the stadium. A single auction by Donald Hillis Friday night raised over $3,450 for the cause. Meanwhile, a food drive held in concert with Relay netted 1,500 cans of food for the Warren County Food Bank.
The fund-raising efforts at Friday’s event were only the cap of year-long fund raising by the over 40 teams which participated. For many, yard sales, auctions, car washes, dinners and special events were a staple of fund-raising initiatives, all of which went into the overall total of funds raised by Relay for Life 2011-12.