“Saints and Sinners” have always been present at every one of the Orange County’s eight Relays for Life. The “Saints and Sinners” are the Relay team from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1401 W. Park in Orange.
Miles Hall, a Beaumont resident, and a current St. Paul’s Relay team member has also been present at each of the Orange County Relays.
“We had a group of volunteers that came out to the church that first year and they gave a presentation on what Relay for Life was and how it was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. We also had a gentleman in our parish who was recovering from treatment who gave a very moving testimony. The church really got behind it,” Hall said.
St. Paul’s put in place a Relay for Life team which had more than enough individuals able to participate at the inaugural event at Little Cypress – Mauriceville High School, the team was large enough that Hall was able to participate on his employer’s team, which needed members.
“We learned a lot. We had a good time. We met some other folks. I think it really did a lot to raise awareness. It really let people see that there was something that they could do to make a difference in people’s lives,” Hall said.
Since then, several members of the St. Paul’s congregation have fought cancer and many are now undergoing treatment.
“It has touched all of our lives. When a loved one or a friend has cancer, you always think ‘What can I do?’ This is an opportunity for us to pull together to show them that we support them, and we want to help them; and to let them know that we won’t give up, “he said.
And the team has been present at each of the sequential Relays over the past eight years at Claiborne Park, at West Orange – Stark Middle School, and this year the team will be present at the Orange County Relay for Life scheduled for May 2 and 3 at Bridge City High School.
Over the years, Hall said he has noticed that people are more aware of Relay for Life’s fight against cancer and they are ready to contribute. St. Paul’s team is comprised of church members and non-church members.
“We have a little bit of everything. We have team members who are not able to walk at the event, but help us raise money and spread the word. And then we have team members that come out and walk but who are not members of the congregation.  They are just friends of the church.  We never have more than eight or 10 involved in the walk,” he said.
Teams are comprised of anywhere from eight to 15 members who individually agree to raise $100 each.
Individuals fundraise in a variety of ways which may include selling t-shirts and/or requesting donations.
The 2008 Orange County Relay for Life begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 2 with the Opening ceremony and Survivor’s lap.
Other special laps follow before the team relay begins. Games and activities are held throughout the night and the Relay ends the following morning, Saturday, May 3 at 6 a.m.
“There is still that party atmosphere when you get there. The fellowship that you get from everyone standing together, praying together, and supporting each other — that is really all it is about.
“Come out. Have a good time. This is not about who raises the most money or has the fanciest camp. If you are thinking about participating, you will get a lot of support from the other teams. They are always willing to share with you what you need to do to get out there,” Hall said.
New teams, as well as existing teams, are invited to attend the Orange County Relay for Life’s Team Captain’s meetings which are held the fourth Monday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25.
Information regarding May’s “Super Hero’s Conquering Cancer” Relay will be shared. The meeting will be held on the fifth floor of Hermann Memorial Baptist Hospital –Orange, located on Strickland Drive. It will begin at 6 p.m.
All team captains are encouraged to attend, as well as any individuals interesting in serving on the planning committee.
Individuals may also register teams on-line at www.orangecountyrelay.org.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.
For more information, contact Becky Grant at 883-3563 or Jackie Burleson at 835-2139.