Relay For Life: The annual American Cancer Society event

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Relay For Life kicked off last Friday Night at Jack Read Park.

Those who came out to participate in Picayune’s 14th annual fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, got a chance to celebrate with cancer survivors and enjoy food and activities all while participating in this worthwhile cause.

The evening started with a special Cancer Survivor Tea, hosted by Picayune Main Street at First Baptist Church Picayune on the Boulevard.

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“It’s not hard to be here tonight to recognize each and every one of you,” said local Relay For Life chairman Lisa Lee during the tea. She continued by saying that although she has not walked in the survivors’ shoes personally, she has experienced cancer knocking at her family’s door, several times, especially in the last several months. Her father died in 2008 of advanced prostate cancer and sadly she would soon lose other relatives to various forms cancer.

Her address was tearful and her words rang true for too many ears that evening as she continued by recognizing special guests in the room, including the oldest, youngest and the longest cancer survivors — they would all be charged with carrying the Relay For Life banner for the walk later that evening.

She explained that on the walking track, survivors would take the first lap, caregivers the second lap and then teams would join in on the third.

Meanwhile at Jack Read Park, many were busy setting up food booths and activities for participants to enjoy. There was a fun jump and bean bag toss for children, with proceeds to play going to ACS.

After the tea, everyone gathered across the street at Jack Read Park for the opening ceremony where a special performance by local Christian rock band GodSpeed3 was taking place on the stage.

After the band, Lee addressed the crowd a second time.

Although this is the 14th year for the local event, Relay For Life is celebrating its 25th year in existence, she explained. She also said 5,000 communities, like Picayune, would be hosting their own event this year, with more than 500,000 survivors being recognized.

“I ask each and every one of you to make a commitment… to make a difference in the lives of those touched by cancer as we celebrate once again another year of survivorship,” said Lee. “Let’s Relay.”

Inspirational music played as the spirits of the survivors soared and carried them around the marked Relay path while the crowd gathered around the edges of the track to cheer them on. On the next lap, family members and caregivers joined hands with the survivors — a very symbolic gesture for the support they provide them on a daily basis. And finally, the teams who worked many weeks and months leading up to the event to raise funds for ACS joined on the third lap.

A second local Relay For Life will be celebrated in Poplarville on Saturday, May 16 at Pearl River Community College’s Dobie Holden Stadium. For those that did not get a chance to participate in Picayune’s event, it’s not too late to help make a difference.

For more information on Relay For Life, visit