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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, March 11, 2011

Fight against cancer coming to Veteran’s Memorial Park in April




The Collegedale Second Annual Relay for Life benefit for the American Cancer Society is scheduled to take place Sunday, April 3 at Veteran’s Memorial Park from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cancer is the underlying cause of nearly one in four deaths in the U.S. The ACS spent the money raised during the 2010 Collegedale Relay on research for a cure taking place at Vanderbilt University. - Photo provided

Celebrate! Remember! Fight back!

Those empowering words will once again be shouted throughout Collegedale at the city’s Second Annual Relay for Life benefit for the American Cancer Society. The event is scheduled to take place Sunday, April 3 at Veteran’s Memorial Park from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Cancer is the underlying cause of nearly one in four deaths in the U.S. In 2010, an estimated 569,490 Americans died of cancer. What’s more, around 11 million people living in the U.S. have had some form of cancer.

Joel Henderson, one of the coordinators of the Relay and a cancer survivor, says College-dale’s event will be an easy, effective and fun way for people of all ages and walks of life to fight cancer.

“The Relay allows people to celebrate the strength of those who have fought against cancer and survived. Their stories are inspirational to everyone and empowering to those who are in the fight,” he says.

The “celebrate” portion of the Relay will consist of several high-energy activities. For starters, teams consisting of family members, co-workers, church groups and others will be encouraged to take turns walking or running around a track in celebration of the victories survivors have achieved over cancer. Henderson says participants do not have to be trained athletes to take part.

Other activities taking place during the “celebrate” portion of the Relay include an ice cream eating contest, courtesy of Brewster’s Ice Cream; a silent auction; and live music on the main stage. With regard to the latter, there will be something for nearly everyone to enjoy, including fans of classic rock (Doc and the Remedies), bluegrass (Barefoot Nellie & Co.), rhythm and blues (Soul Survivor) and jazz (the Robert Crabtree Trio).

As the sun begins to touch the horizon, the Relay will enter the “remember” portion of the event, during which caregivers and loved ones will light a candle to honor those who lost the battle with cancer. Called a Luminaria Ceremony, each participant will light a candle, place it in a small bag of sand and then set it along the track on which the relay took place, symbolically lighting the way to a cure for cancer. The poignant ritual allows those who have lost someone to cancer to remember, grieve and heal, says the Relay for Life Web site.

Participants will also offer testimonials and read poetry during the “remember” portion of the Relay. Female acoustic group Messages of Mercy and gospel singer Tim Veazey will provide music.

“The Luminaria Ceremony always puts a lump in our throats, but we wrap our arms around each other and honor those who didn’t win the battle,” Henderson says.

To end the Relay on a high note, participants will then “fight back” during a DJ-inspired line dance party. Dances will include the Relay Cha-Cha Slide, the Electric Hop for Hope and Ain’t No Chicken Here.

“It’s our way of saying we’re mad, and we’re going to find a cure,” says Henderson.

Sponsors of the Relay will be offering food throughout the event. Greenbriar Cove, a retirement community situated at the base of White Oak Mountain in the Collegedale-Ooltewah area, will be serving black bean burgers, while Wal-Mart will be providing hot dogs and soda.

The money raised during the event will go directly to the American Cancer Society, which uses the funds it receives for education, advocacy and research for a cure. Henderson says he looked into where the ACS spent the money raised during the 2010 Collegedale Relay, and he was pleased to see some of it was used to support research taking place close to home.

“I met with the people at Vanderbilt University who are doing cancer research, and saw firsthand why it’s expensive. While I was there, I met a young man – a brilliant PhD – who’s dedicated 12 years of his life to cancer research. I feel good about where our money is going.”

Henderson says the Collegedale Relay is a chance for the broader Chattanooga community to come together to put an end to cancer: “Together, we can find a cure for this disease and make celebrating more birthdays a reality.”

To get involved in the fight for more birthdays, contact Christy Johnson with the ACS at 423-499-2603 or Henderson at 423-894-5654, extension 110. To form a team, sign up to volunteer, dedicate a Luminaria or make a donation, visit Collegedale’s Relay for Life Web site at www.relayforlife.com/collegedale