Winning the race

Get in the race

All Relay for Life events are free and open to the public. Proceeds from food and games sales by teams go to fund American Cancer Society programs.

By Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

The Relay for Life is one night, but the race against cancer runs all year long – every year.

“We have to learn there is something we can do,” said Sandra McIntosh, an American Cancer Society volunteer who has been working with her husband 92 Jams radio personality Stan Allen to recruit teams for the Lee County Relay for Life.

The call to action can be personal – with healthy lifestyle changes, self-exams and routine screening.

It can be public – sharing time and talents to help Northeast Mississippi cancer patients and spreading the word about cancer awareness.

“Knowledge is everything,” Allen said.

Today, volunteers in Tupelo, along with those in Ripley and Holly Springs, will celebrate months of hard work in raising money for the American Cancer Society's research and support programs.

Organizers of the Lee County Relay for Life are expecting a strong showing with 22 teams signed up and plans to raise $69,000 for the American Cancer Society, said Kim Crump, chairwoman for this year's event.

“They do so many things,” on a national level and on the local level, Crump said.

It's not just money that makes the American Cancer Society work. It's people, said Cindy McNair, community representative for the American Cancer Society.

“We need more volunteers,” McNair said.

Survivors of breast cancer and prostate cancer share their experiences with others through Reach to Recovery and Man-to-Man support groups, McNair said.

Licensed cosmetologists are needed to help with the Look Good Feel Better seminar that helps women cancer patients adjust their beauty routines around the side effects of cancer treatments.

Sunday school classes can help buy a case of nutritional supplement for a needy cancer patient who can't stomach regular food because of treatment side effects.

Because cancer makes such a large impact on a person's life, work to help them has to be wider than just medical information.

“Sometimes cancer is the least of their troubles,” Crump said. “We try to link them with resources.”

Because of the financial strain of medical bills, families may need help keeping the lights on. Because of the fatigue of treatment, they may need help with childcare.

“The more resources we have identified, the more we can spread it around,” helping more people without laying too heavy a load on any one volunteer or group, McNair said.

Relay fun

Even though cancer is a serious topic, the Relay for Life is a community celebration of life. Cancer survivors are special guests for the evening which is free and open to the public.

Along with a desire to make a stand against cancer, good music and tasty food are hallmarks of Relay for Life celebrations.

In Tupelo, the Relay will feature barbecue from the Tupelo Hog Roasters, fried fish from the Luncheon Civitans, cool caffeine from Starbucks and a host of treats from the teams, McNair said. There'll be fun for the kids with games and activities.

The Lee County Relay for Life will feature the three finalists from a Relay for Life talent show that was held in May at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.

“We've got three phenomenal girls,” who will be performing in addition to others, McNair said.

The literal highlight of all Relays for Life is the luminaria ceremony, where candles are lit in memory of those who have lost the fight with cancer and in honor of those battling on.

“It's a very emotional, touching time,” McNair said.

Today
Lee County Relay for Life
5:30 p.m. survivor reception
6 p.m. opening ceremonies
Ballard Park, Tupelo

Marshall County Relay for Life

6 p.m. Sam Coopwood Park, Holly Springs

Tippah County Relay for Life

6 p.m., 5K race will start at midnight, Clayton Wommack City Park, Ripley

June 16

Alcorn County Relay for Life

6 p.m. Crossroads Regional Park, Corinth.

June 23

Monroe County Relay For Life

6 p.m. Frisco Park, Amory

Prentiss County Relay for Life

6 p.m. Keenum Stadium NEMCC campus, Booneville

Union County Relay For Life

6 p.m. New Albany Fairgrounds

Aug. 4

Oktibbeha County Relay For Life

6 a.m. Sportsplex, Starkville.

For more information, contact the local office of the American Cancer Society at 844-8544 or visit www.cancer.org