By Ashley Rader
It was a night of hope, support and remembrance as hundreds of people came out on Friday night to support the Carter County Relay for Life that was held at the Elizabethton High School track. Fundraisers for the Relay for Life have raised over $124,000 for the American Cancer Society and event organizers are confident the Carter County Relay for Life will surpass its goal for fundraising this year.
Event Co-Chair Kathy Thomason stated the fundraising total following the Relay that was held Friday night into Saturday morning was $124,078. The goal for the 2012 Relay was $125,000 and the Carter County Relay for Life still has a few fundraisers in the calendar of events for the 2012 season.
“We are not finished yet,” Thomason said. “We don’t have to close our books until the end of July so we are excited that we are going to pass our goal this year.”
A total of 31 teams registered for the Relay for Life. Individuals walked laps at the Elizabethton High School track throughout the night as a way to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer and to celebrate those that are survivors. The theme for the night was “Lights, Camera, Action for a Cure” and each team decorated their area along the track with a movie based theme.
Thomason noted that overall participation in the Relay was up this year from previous years and there were a number of people who logged many miles throughout the night in honor of their loved ones.
“We had two young people who walked 21.5 miles each,” she said. “One team walked over 26 miles total. Another man walked more than 20 miles in the night. It was just an awesome night.”
To help encourage the Relayers, Oak Street Baptist Church’s Relay team handed out “courage beads” to people as they made their laps around the track. They would receive one color bead for each single lap and another color bead for every five laps since five laps equaled one mile.
There were a number of new teams participating in the Relay for Life this year. Thomason said the new teams were extremely successful in their fundraising efforts. She said the average fundraising amount for a new team was around $1,000. She said two out of three new teams averaged over $3,000.
The dedication of the Relay for Life walkers kept them going throughout the night. To keep spirits up and walkers awake, there were different activities planned throughout the night along with live music and karaoke sessions. The Relay wrapped up with a celebratory lap at 6:45 a.m. Saturday.
“It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of energy on the track Friday night,” Thomason said. “It was an amazing night. I was impressed with the camaraderie, the enthusiasm and the appreciation for what we were doing. People stepped up this year and worked hard so we can reach our goal.”