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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Relay for life...and love

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cara Lee Francis first began participating in the Relay For Life in Lewisburg, in honor of her daughter, breast cancer survivor Natalie Grogan. They're seen here at a different charity fundraiser.
(Submitted photo)
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, walkers will take turns making the rounds of Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center.

It's a labor of love, a way of remembering those who have been lost to cancer, providing services to those now suffering and funding research to help save generations yet unborn.

It's the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

According to local Relay coordinator Samantha Chamblee, 17 teams are expected to participate; there are 185 individual walkers signed up, although that number will grow by the time the Relay kicks off Friday night.

Bedford County has hosted a Relay For Life event since 1998, according to Harriett Stewart, a regional representative for the American Cancer Society.

Here's how it works: Teams of participants raise money, some of them throughout the year, in support of the event. Team members will take turns walking from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday. Teams may also have their own individual fund-raisers at the event.

"Really, it's just a night of coming together," said Chamblee.

But there will be more than just the walking taking place. There will be entertainment, games and fund-raisers, a silent auction, and special traditions which have become part and parcel of the Relay For Life experience. Anyone is welcome to attend, participate in the silent auction, enjoy the entertainment and patronize the various booths.


Silent auction items will include a football autographed by Tennessee Titans great Frank Wycheck, a CD autographed by Toby Keith and a basket of Pampered Chef items. The silent auction will run from 6-8 p.m.

At 5 p.m., a reception will be held for cancer survivors, and they will be invited to kick off the relay with a special "survivor's lap" at 6 p.m.

From 6:30 until 9 p.m., there will be live entertainment. At 9 p.m., a quiet and reverent luminaria ceremony will be held. Electric lights will be turned off, and walkers will walk only by the light of luminarias and torches, each of them sponsored by a donor in memory of someone who has been lost to cancer.

Cara Lee Francis is a past participant in the Lewisburg Relay For Life in honor of her daughter, breast cancer survivor Natalie Grogan. Francis will participate in the Bedford County event for the first time this year as part of a newly-formed team from Living Stones Community Church. Team members have used the Relay web site to solicit online donations from friends and family.

Francis puts labels on old prescription medicine bottles, hands them out to friends, and asks them to fill the bottles up with quarters for Relay. The church also had a "purple potty monstrosity" fund-raiser, in which a purple-painted toilet was deposited on the lawn of various good-sport church members, who paid for it to be removed and who could pay a little extra to suggest its next resting place. Church members could also buy insurance against the potty turning up in their yard.

Francis noted the work done by the American Cancer Society in helping patients get to treatments and providing the Hope Lodge, which offers housing in Nashville for cancer patients and their caregivers.

Many are touched

Francis noted the number of people whose lives are touched by cancer. At her church alone, there are two members in chemotherapy right now. She said the congregation has been supportive of the team's efforts, and that virtually every member has been touched by cancer in some way, if not through personal experience than through a family member or close friend. Kelly Burton, a skin cancer survivor, is another member of the Living Stones team.

Chamblee herself got involved in the program six years ago, after the death of her mother, as part of a team of friends and family.

For more information about the event, call Samantha Chamblee at (931) 703-7267; Harriett Stewart at (615) 516-0807; or go to www.relayforlife.org/bedfordtn.

NOTE: Carney, whose mother died of pancreatic cancer last August, will participate in the Relay himself for the first time this year, as part of a newly-formed team from First United Methodist Church.

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