By Ashley Rader
The Relay for Life is an event that is held in more than 5,000 communities nationwide and in 20 other countries other than the United States. Millions of people walk laps around tracks in their communities to raise money to benefit the American Cancer Society which supports research and programs to aid cancer patients. The Relay also celebrates those who are survivors and honors the memory of those who have passed away after battling the disease.
The Relay for Life has been held in Carter County for the past 20 years. The first Relay for Life event in Carter County was held in 1992. The events started small and have grown to the larger Relay that is held today.
Relay for Life participants who have been involved with the event since it first began recall that it started at the Franklin Pool. The Relay was just held for a few hours with the participants walking laps around the pool.
“It began by walking around the pool for about three or four hours,” Jimmy Buck said in a previous interview with the STAR. “We raised a few hundred dollars and it started to grow. It was to raise money for the American Cancer Society and there had not been a lot of means and ways for people to do something like that before.”
The event then moved to the track at T.A. Dugger Junior High School and would run from noon to sunset to allow for the Luminaria to be lit. The first events usually only had a few participants, an estimated 50 relayers with 100 people remembered in the Luminaria.
The group found out that for their Relay to be sanctioned by the American Cancer Society as an official Relay for Life event, it would have to be held overnight. After realizing the requirement for an overnight Relay, the event was moved to the Elizabethton High School track where it has remained.
“We have watched it grow each and every year,” said Kathy Thomason, event co-chair for the Relay this year. “We thought we could get more of the community involved and we did. It has been so good to see.”
This year there are more than 30 teams registered for the Relay for Life. The Relay will be held on Friday at the Elizabethton High School track. Events will begin at 5 p.m. and the opening ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m.