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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - May 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

Thousands gather for Relay For Life, raise more than $295,000
Polk County Enterprise - May 2009
LIVINGSTON — “I am pleased with the amount of money raised this year,” James Baugh, chairman of Polk County Relay For Life said early Saturday morning. “With the different factors of the last year including a hurricane, an election year and now the recession, Polk County Relay For Life raised over $295,000.” “I am proud of the efforts of everyone involved and express my thanks to everyone in Polk County. The fi nal numbers will be available next week with contributions and team deposits still to be tallied,” Baugh said. Polk County Relay For Life, the all night fundraising event for the American Cancer Society held Friday at Pedigo Park, began under humid yet mostly clear skies.

The event that usually experiences rain at some point during the evening saw other problems this year. Traffi c to get to the event was heavy and backed up along Hwy. 59 access road. “I’m sorry about the traffi c congestion but thrilled at the turnout,” James Baugh, said during opening ceremonies. Relay began at 5 p.m. with the Livingston Elementary Honors Choir under one of the pavilions. The choir sang while teams set up booths for the night’s activities. Many teams were preparing the extravagant booths throughout the day with the 2009 theme Wide World of Sports. At the conclusion of the choir’s presentation, one of the first surprises of the evening occurred.

Cole Jones, a member of the choir, sang happy birthday to his grandmother, Mary Nettles celebrating her 78th birthday. Accompanied by the choir and those present, Nettles was surprised. “What a nice birthday gift from my grandson,” Nettles said. “I’ve lived here since 1950 and came out to hear Cole perform. I can see that Relay involves family and the community and I am so glad to be here,” she said. Livingston Area Community Band performed at 6 p.m. under the direction of Lowell Clark as teams completed more than 70 booths representing most parts of the county. Opening ceremonies began as over 100 survivors, caregivers and their families heard remarks from Steve Zasco, CEO of American Cancer Society High Plains Division, Tammi Ogletree and James Baugh.

“Over 2,000 Relayers are present tonight from Polk County taking on the battle to end cancer,” Baugh told the crowd. Livingston JROTC presented the colors, the national anthem was sung by Hershel Lester and the evening began with survivors and caregivers making the first lap of the evening by crossing the Bridge of Hope. Almost an hour passed as teams followed the survivors in the opening lap ending at the bridge. The event offered food, raffles and family fun. Entertainment during the evening included Paul’s Journey, an award winning gospel group, Alabama-Coushatta Tribal dancers, and the Don Martinez Band. Fun at various booths included a dunking booth where local police officers, county deputies and judges gave attendees a chance to throw at a target to dunk the volunteers or pay a slightly higher price to pull a rope for instant dunking. Other booths offered crafts and raffles.

A batting cage was open for practice swings and two race cars were on hand for pictures and simulation race car driving. Team booths offered good food, homemade goods, arts and crafts, T-shirts, imaginative games and raffles for everyone to find something to fit their interests. Luminaria bags lined the entire walking track to honor those who have overcome cancer as well as those did not. Over 1,100 luminarias were lit during the solemn, moving ceremony this year. The American Cancer Society set up a cancer prevention study area in a pavilion offering residents to participate in a nationwide long term cancer study to add to cancer research. The study will help ACS better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer with the ultimate goal to eliminate cancer as a major health concern for everyone. “I am getting in the study to help because it is something I can do to help find a cure,” said Connie June Smith as she filled out the study questionnaire. “I was a caretaker for my mother and my daughter-in-law is battling cancer now,” she added. Elisa Sterling and Sandy Handley from Barnum were also enrolling in the program echoing other sentiments of their commitment to join the long term study.

“Maybe this will help to find a cure so our loved ones and friends will not have to suffer this disease,” added Sharon Walters, caregiver for her survivor husband. The team activities continued through the night with themed laps including the Macarena, Hokey Pokey, the Cha Cha slide and kazoo lap among others. To keep teams awake and geared up, games offered friendly competition among the teams including a scavenger hunt, relay bingo, tug-of-war and the popular buddy board races. Midnight madness, the Ellen Show and Relay Idol added to the late hour and early morning activities for teams. The event ended Saturday morning at 7 a.m. with the Go Texan cook-off team offering breakfast for those still walking to raise funds to cure cancer. Relay For Life is the largest fundraising event in Polk County.

It includes teams from across the county dedicated to fight a disease that affects everyone in some way. Cancer does not discriminate who it affects. Through Relays across the country, research and major strides against the disease have taken place over the years. The American Cancer Society is dedicated to continue research to find the cure to eliminate the cancer diseases. Contributions to Polk County Relay For Life can still be made by logging on to polkcountyrelay.org



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