Relay For Life surpasses $35K goal

  • Posted: 5/19/2013 3:01 PM
    6/1/2013 5:13 PM
 Relay For Life surpasses $35K goal
Cancer survivors from around North Augusta and Midland Valley go through the opening lap of the Relay for Life Friday evening, at North Augusta High School. At front, holding the banner, are Katherine Neal, left, Jim Baggott and Melanie Chavous.

Clouds loomed large for an hour or two, but Friday evening’s weather wound up cooperating and helping make for a successful Relay For Life, in the assessment of organizers.

“We had more teams than we have had in years and years,” said Lisa Glass, the American Cancer Society’s community manager for Aiken and Edgefield counties. “We ended up surpassing our goal, which was $35,000.”

She added, “I think we had a record crowd. The feel was electric. Everybody was having a great time. Some of the teams ran out of food.”

That meant that they had sold out of their entire supply a welcome sign of a large crowd, she said. “We just had more folks than we even expected. I think the weather was perfect.”

Kristen Bodkin, the event chairman, confirmed the financial situation and pointed out that the goal had actually been reached before the event began, so the ultimate figure will be solid.

The event, held in North Augusta High School’s stadium, was largely set to music, and luminaries were placed around the track and in the stands, offering boosters the chance to light a candle in someone’s honor or memory.

The overall result was “really cool,” in the words of Mary Strauss, 12, a fourth-grader at North Augusta Elementary School.

This year’s featured speaker was Melanie Chavous, North Augusta High School’s resource officer. Recalling her “long journey” with melanoma, she said, “It only accounts for ... 4 percent of all skin cancers, but 77 percent of skin-cancer deaths are because of melanoma, so it was pretty serious, and I was pretty lucky that I detected it early.”

She expressed thanks for her family, friends and church neighbors, and shared a Bible verse that became particularly meaningful for her since her medical crisis. “It’s Joshua 1:9, and it’s, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God will be with you always,’” she said.

One of the advantages of working in North Augusta, she said, is the availability of several nearby hospitals. Referring to cancer research, Dukes said, “We see the money coming back. We are able to come back to school. We are able to receive medical treatment here.”

One more Relay For Life is to be held this month in Aiken County, with South Aiken High School’s event set to run from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.