Relay for Life started with one person who believed he could make a difference. In May 1985, people gathered and watched as Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours and completed 83.6 miles on foot and raised $27,000 through pledges to help save lives from cancer. The next year, 19 teams were part of the first Relay For Life event and it has continued to grow and grow into a global fundraising phenomenon. It is now the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event in the fight against cancer.
LaBelle’s Relay For Life was held at Barron Park this past Saturday, March 30. This cancer fighting fundraiser, filled with activities, contests and delicious food, celebrates survivors and honors the memories of those who have lost their battles. Teams set up a themed campsite and collect donations for food and drinks, raffles, games, and other fun activities. Throughout the event, from morning to night, team members take turns- relaying, walking the Barron Park perimeter. The track is lined with names of loved ones lost to cancer handwritten on paper bag luminaries and signs from all of the event’s wonderful sponsors. Each team has a member on the track at all times to symbolize how cancer never sleeps. As some of the members from team Sisters in Faith explained in unison, “Cancer patients can’t just stop because they’re tired, and neither will we.”
Team U.S. Sugar won “Best Food” with their delicious BBQ ribs and classic Southern Sweet tea. The “Best Spirit Stick” awards went to Team MAMASH Helping Hands with an adorable Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Sisters in Faith went all out with their “Coco” theme, winning “Best Campsite.” Sisters in Faith had an adorable little performer win the Lip Sync contest as well, even using a crafted guitar as their spirit stick in the routine. The City of LaBelle’s fabulous display at City Hall won the Paint the Town Purple contest, and received a cute purple flying pig trophy for their efforts. Team Two Peas sent RJ Reynolds, aka Cecilia, on stage for the Male Beauty Pageant, where he had the crowd roaring with laughter as he was crowned Queen.
LaBelle Relay for Life’s closing ceremony ended with riveting speeches given by survivors who told the fearful crowds their stories of triumph and testimony to how much Relay for Life has helped them directly, during each of their battles. Survivor Cathy Perry thanked everyone, in her moving speech, for their participation in the event, saying, “I didn’t have to have radical surgery, because of you Relay. I didn’t have to go far, because of you Relay. I didn’t have to be gone, away from my family and friends, because of you Relay.” A memorial slideshow was played, showing pictures of loved ones who have passed on, a slide show that grows longer and longer each year. After the slide show, a solemn, Silent Lap was taken where each luminary glowed, some decorated to memorialize those we have lost and some with words of encouragement for those still fighting.
One of Relay For Life LaBelle’s unstoppable and amazing organizers, Vicki Reynolds, posted on Facebook, “A HUGE Shoutout to all our Relay For Life teams and everyone who supported and contributed to Relay For Life of LaBelle 2019. Our unofficial total raised for 2019 is approximately $58,000!”
Thank you to all who participated in the fight to end cancer.