Relay for Life fundraising events bring communities together

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Lee County will put its fight against cancer in drive May 4.
Drawing inspiration from the classic cars that come to the Blue Suede Cruise, which begins May 4 across Main Street at the BancorpSouth Arena, the Lee County Relay for Life will be bebopping and grooving all night long at Fairpark. The annual team-based fundraising event will feature the sights and sounds of the 1950s and ’60s.
“There’s no admission,” to the Relay for Life, said event co-chairwoman Donna Kingsley, so cruisers and the public will be able to enjoy both events. “They’ll be able to go back and forth.”
Across the region, communities will unite in the fight against cancer. By the middle of June, 15 Northeast Mississippi counties and one town – Baldwyn – will hold Relay for Life events celebrating the hard work of teams who have raised money for the American Cancer Society. Already this month, relay events at University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University have raised more than $90,000.
Each Relay event will have its own flavor, but they all are community festivals filled with fun, food and music. In addition to the camaraderie, a luminary ceremony offers a moment to pause and remember the toll the fight against cancer takes.
The money helps the American Cancer Society continue to fulfill its vision of a world with more birthdays and fewer deaths from cancer. The American Cancer Society provides support through groups like I Can Cope for survivors and caregivers and Man-to-Man for prostate cancer survivors and programs like Look Good … Feel Better. Reach to Recovery trains breast cancer survivors to reach out to the newly diagnosed.
Road to Recovery transportation grants assist patients who have to drive to daily radiation appointments for weeks at a time. The Hope Lodges, located near major cancer centers, give those who need treatment far from home a place to stay. Research grants fund the search for the next generation of treatment.
The national hotline and online database of cancer information is an invaluable resource.
Lee County co-chairwoman Michelle Mauldin remembers calling the cancer society’s 800 number on Christmas following her breast cancer diagnosis when she needed to talk, but was worried about dragging down family during the holiday.
“I had a really horrible day,” Mauldin said. “I called and there was an actual person there. (The breast cancer survivor) talked to me about three hours.”
In Lee County
On May 4, Lee County will kick off its celebration at 5 p.m. with a reception for survivors and their caregivers at Fairpark. Current King and Queen of Relay – brother and sister Harry Armstrong and Lillian Buse – will hand off their crowns to the next survivors.
The event will begin in earnest at 6 p.m. with opening ceremonies. Teams will continue to add to their fundraising totals with sales of barbecue plates, hot dogs, sno-cones, nachos and face painting. The Lee County Sheriff’s Department will have a Jail and Bail event to raise money that night.
Fifteen teams have been hard at work raising money, but there’s room for more friends in the fight against cancer, Kingsley said.
“We’d love to fill up this park,” she said.
michaela.morris@journalinc.com

Lee County Schedule,/b>
MAY 4
Fairpark in downtown Tupelo

• 5 p.m.: Survivor reception with food provided by Atlanta Bread Company. Open to survivors and their caregivers.

• 6 p.m.: Opening ceremonies. Survivors walk the first lap, caregivers the second and the team parade will be the third lap.

• 10 p.m.: Luminary ceremony

• Midnight: Fight Back Rally

• Entertainment throughout the night: Louis Armstrong and his All Stars, Breaking Grass, The Tempos, Elvis tribute artist Dale Rushing, “The DJ” Scott Burns and Womenless Beauty Review.

Other Relay for Life Events in today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.