Relay for LifePublished: April 29, 2012
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The community of Rockwall County turned out in full force on April 27, 2012, to unite against a common enemy. This year’s Relay For Life, the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, organized by co-chairs Carla Brooks and Mindy Brence, exceeded all expectations, earning the highest amount of money of any Rockwall Relay to date.
The event opened at 7 p.m. with the Presentation of the Colors by Boy Scout Troop # 314 and the singing of the National Anthem by members of the Rockwall Children’s Chorus led by Director Alan Clark. Congressman Ralph Hall, whose own grandson was diagnosed with cancer, spoke about the importance of preserving the nation’s space program, in hopes that a cure for cancer is likely to be discovered in the gravity-free space station laboratories.
The Survivors opened the Relay by walking the first lap to the cheers of the crowd. Tom and Betty Moore were fan favorites. Married for over 50 years, Betty whizzed around the track in her electric chair, high-fiving onlookers, while her husband, Tom leisurely strolled with the aid of his walker and the company of their daughter, Erin. The Caregivers took to the track next, applauded by their family and friends before the rest of the participants joined in.
Each individual at the Cain Middle School track has his or her own story behind his participation in Relay. Fifth grader Molly Wilcoxson was there with her teacher, Karen Folleras, whose involvement in Relay had inspired her to donate the money she received from the Easter Bunny to the cause. Two of Molly’s grandparents have been diagnosed with cancer, and she decided that people with cancer needed the money more than she did.
Eleven-year-old Grace Milder decided to hold her birthday party at Relay. Grace’s own family has been affected by the disease, and Relay is an important part of their lives. Grace and her nine guests wore matching purple tie-dyed shirts with the caption More Birthdays, Less Cancer.
Reece McKelva’s reason to Relay is decidedly personal and was boldly and humorously written across his chest in big letters…I love Sherylyn’s boobs!
The team Three Tough Cookies is named for three of its members, who each suffered from a different type of cancer. Their personalized shirts featured a pink background to represent breast cancer, zebra-striped letters to represent neuro-endocrine cancer, and a teal-colored ribbon to represent ovarian cancer.
No matter what the participant’s motivation is to Relay, all were touched by the solemn ceremony which remembers those who lost their fight with cancer. At 9 p.m. the stadium lights were dimmed to reveal the word HOPE spelled out in luminarias. A small group from the Rockwall Children’s Chorus, joined by the women’s choir from Rockwall-Heath High School, provided inspirational music during the Remembrance Ceremony, as the Hush Angels quieted the crowd.
“Nobody has cancer alone.” The words of keynote speaker, Leigh Plagens, ring true. A cancer diagnosis impacts not only the one suffering from the disease but all of his or her friends, colleagues, and loved ones, as well. Leigh detailed how the community of Rockwall rallied around the former French teacher and school board member to encourage her during her fight. From the pharmacist at her local drugstore who filled her prescriptions and even provided dinner for her to the elementary school children who wrote poems or drew pictures to lift her spirits to the friendly staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who took care of her, she felt the loving arms of the town enfold her. Leigh Plagens concluded her speech with the words, “I am a survivor. I am a survivor. I am a survivor,” as the luminarias in the bleachers changed to spell out the word CURE.
After the solemn Remembrance Ceremony, the action kicked into high gear with wild games like the nearly impossible Frozen T-Shirt Contest where participants attempted to free a knotted t-shirt from a block of ice using any means possible. The ever popular “Miss-ter Relay” competition featured three handsome high school men in drag with hilariously exaggerated body parts. Spaghetti Hair was vastly entertaining as partners worked together to insert the greatest amount of raw pasta into one person’s hair to produce a lion-like mane. There also were wacky laps, including: the Poker Lap, Crazy Socks Lap, Best Boxers Lap, Bed Head Lap, the Make Noise Lap, and the Pajama Lap.
The Fight Back Ceremony at midnight got the crowd revved up to continue through the wee hours of the morning until the event wrapped up at 7 a.m. The top three money raisers were: First Place Leigh Plagens, Second Place Mike Rask, and Third Place Carolyn Keane. The top money-raising teams were: Walkers of the Light, Team 5-H, and Sisters Standing Strong. The Most Spirited Team award went to Strength in Numbers, and the Best Tent Site was awarded to Striking Out Cancer. However, everyone involved in Relay is a part of the winning team as they work together toward a future without cancer.
Submitted by Mary Thacker
Pictured above: Rockwall High School Cheerleaders: Sadie Campman, Holley Herndon, Heidi Blackwell, Morgan Cain, Maddy Fergason
Pictured below: Strength in Numbers, winners of the Most Spirited Team award.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Cook
Planet Rockwall Facebook Photos - Relay for Life Rockwall 2012Posted Sunday, April 29, 2012 in Living, Special Features, Seniors, Teens, Volunteers,