Relay for Life in BC this weekend
“One Fine Day, We Will Find a Cure.”
That is the hope and belief of every Orange County Relay for Life participant, as well as planning committee organizers.
The 10th Annual Relay for Life this Friday and Saturday May 1 and 2 will culminate a year’s worth of preparation by that planning committee led by RFL Event Chairperson Becky Grant and Co-Chairperson Kerri Morrell.
Grant, who has been a part of every Orange County Relay, is a 10 year breast cancer survivor and has been impacted by cancer in many ways.
“My Daddy, step-son and mother-in-law have died from cancer. My father-in-law and step mother-in-law are survivors. They were all diagnosed after me, with the exception of my mother-in-law. I also have many friends who are survivors and many that have lost the battle,” Grant said.
She became involved with the event while she was going through cancer treatment and attended the Jefferson County Relay for Life. There, she met Jackie Burleson, the Regional American Cancer Society (ACS) Community Manager for Income Development who suggested Orange County begin a Relay.
Grant agreed with her and with help put together the first Orange County Relay.
As this year’s event chairperson, she said her goals are for Relay to be successful and fun for all.
Kristi Conn has been on the planning committee also for all ten years. She was co-chairman for two years.
She emphasizes that most of the money raised at the event is used for ACS services provided to Orange County and/or for cancer research.
She is serving again as bookkeeper this year. While she has been working on tracking fundraising and expenditures since January, her goal is also to promote awareness.
“I want to get the word out that the American Cancer Society is available to everyone in Orange County,” Conn said.
Cancer, she said, affects all of us in some way.
“I celebrate Becky being a 10 year survivor, she is the reason that I started in Relay. I continue to support Relay in memory of my 15 year old niece, Victoria Enmon, who passed away in 2008 from leukemia,” she said.
The 2009 Relay for Life Co-Chairperson is Kerri Morrell. She became active in Orange County’s Relay three years ago as captain of her Orangefield school team, and has served on the planning committee for two years.
She now works to meet the challenge of serving as Relay Co-chair and also captaining her family team “ You’ve Got to Be Kiddin’.”
The team’s name is a favorite phrase of her grandfather, who the team honors.
“My grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer seven years ago. He fought for over a year and a half and lost the battle,” Morrell said.
Now she relays in his honor, as well as in honor of a friend who is a melanoma survivor of four years.
Her commitment to Relay reflects her desire to raise cancer awareness.
“It will make you want to fight back. One day we will win this battle,” Morrell said.
Luminaria Chairperson Patricia Lee has served on the planning committee for five years, although she has been part of the Orange County Relay for nine years.
She will coordinate the candelight luminaria ceremony and is also active in team recruitment.
She lost her maternal grandparents, as well as other family members to cancer.
“Everyone is affected by cancer. The more people we have involved and aware, the sooner we will find a cure,” Lee said.
Beverly Perry is a 15 year breast cancer survivor who works with the survivor check-in committee; and also works in the concession stand.
“After I healed and finished ‘licking my wounds,’ I knew in my heart that I wanted to become involved in the healing of others. I had been through my ‘ordeal’ – I wanted to help those that came after me to make it easier for them,” Perry said.
When Orange County started their Relay, Perry began attending it, and then joined the planning committee approximately five years ago.
“One of the positive impacts for me is the dozens (if not hundreds) of other cancer survivors and volunteers that I have met and worked with over the years. Some of these people have become my best friends for life,” she said.
Jo Ellen Enmon is the Survivor Chairperson for Orange County’s Relay for Life.
“It is my honor and privilege to see that each person who is a cancer survivor is supported and honored at the Relay,” Enmon said.
Her committee makes certain that each registered survivor receives a shirt.
“This purple shirt signifies that they are a Cancer Survivor, they have fought cancer and they are winning the fight. The survivors are honored at the relay by walking the first lap,” she said.
Enmon became involved with Relay for Life in 2004 after her 11 year old daughter, Victoria, was diagnosed with cancer.
“While the loss of Victoria in January 2008 is still very difficult for our family, others are winning this battle and we celebrate those who are and remember those who have lost their lives to cancer,” Enmon said.
Lorraine Shannon, Relay’s Publicity Chairperson, also became involved as a result of her son’s cancer diagnosis in 2003.
“While Trace was going through treatment, my sister Tina put together a Relay for Life team made up of family and friends. She thought this team would honor Trace and give our family and friends an opportunity to honor and remember others as well,” Shannon said.
The 2004 experience was overwhelming.
“We were able to meet so many people who had battled cancer, were battling cancer, or had lost loved ones. They offered us hugs, prayers, and so much encouragement and warmth. The experience was so uplifting, it gave us momentum when Trace went through his bone marrow transplant,” she said.
Shannon said she, Trace, and her family have been a part of Orange County Relay ever since, and she became a part of the planning committee in 2008.
Kent Broussard is the logistics chairman for the 2009 Relay for Life. He has been on the planning committee for three years, and has also served as a co-chair.
His logistics work begins about nine months prior to the event and becomes progressively more intense as the event nears.
He has involvement with the Relay layout, coordinating with the city on specific concerns, and setting up and breaking down the entire event.
He, like Enmon and Shannon, became involved when his child, a daughter, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15 months.
“It changes how you look at all aspects of life. Treasure each moment of a loved ones’ life,” he said.
He encourages the community to attend the Relay and participate.
“It is one of the most meaningful events that I have participated in. It truly is a time to Remember, Celebrate, and Fight Back. You have time for fun, reflections or healing, and encouragement for the future.
Other members of the 2009 Relay for Life planning committee are: Elizabeth Wernig, Team Recruitment; Nan Cooper, Advocacy; April Grant, Silent Auction; Misty Butler, Mission Delivery; Tahia Washington, Stacey Durio, and Jennifer Peco, Activities; Victor Enmon and Glenn LaBlanc, Cooking; Marty Taylor, Helper, All Areas; Staci and Jason Waldrep, Registration; and Carol Ward, Hospitality.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, May 1 and will end at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 2. It will be held at Bridge City High School’s Football Stadium.
The 1950’s is the theme. Approximately 90 Relay teams and 900+ individuals will participate.
Community volunteers are welcome to assist at the event.
For more information contact Becky Grant at email@example.com; or Jacki Burleson at 835-2139.