Jones County Relay For Life held a team captains’ meeting April 1 to discuss upcoming events at Relay and to move preparations for the event along.
Dedicated individuals who participate in Relay For Life expressed why they are passionate about the upcoming event on May 10.
Wanda Bush, team leader for the Pilot Club of Jones County For Relay and Grand Club member, loves helping out at Relay For Life. She said she wants to help raise more funds to find a cure.
“Relay For Life is important to me because I am a cancer survivor,” she said. “It has been 18 years, and I’ve been Relaying for 18 years. I haven’t missed one. When I had my first treatment in 2001, I came to my first Relay meeting after.”
Bush said ever since then she’s been a part of Relay For Life and it’s become a passion in her life. She said she can relate to others going through similar struggles.
Lauren Rutherford, community development manager with the American Cancer Society serving Jones, Baldwin and Houston counties, said she helps coordinate the events at Relay For Life.
Rutherford said this is her second year participating in Relay, but loves it. She said although she is a relative newcomer, she is going all out.
“I’m passionate about Relay because it’s affected a lot of my father’s side of the family. My paternal grandmother and grandfather both passed from cancer. It’s all over on my father’s side. Most recently my pastor passed away from prostate cancer they found very late in the game,” she said.
The community development manager said her pastor was like her second father, and he was her best friend.
Rutherford said at the end of the night the crowd will hold up luminarias they purchased to honor individuals who have struggled with cancer. She said it’s a magical time.
“Luminaria is the most special part of Relay to me because it’s a time where you are recognizing and honoring cancer survivors who are there,” Rutherford said. “It’s an emotional walk, but it’s a celebratory walk. You are recognizing those who have lost the battle, and those who are still fighting the battle.”
Bush said the time with luminarias are helpful because it does encourage those still fighting cancer. She said it’s an overall memorable thing at Relay.
“We’re out there helping others who are fighting this battle. We are standing with them. I just think it’s a very special time,” Bush said.
The manager said there will be lots of fun at Relay. She said there will be Zumba, dancing, a wing eating contest hosted by Buffalo Wild Wings, hot air balloons hosted by Remax, lots of food, and bouncy houses.
“We try to draw out the community as a whole and the diversity within the community,” she said. “People should come out because it’s a lot of fun for the entire family and everyone involved, plus it’s for a good cause.”
The cancer survivor said she hopes they beat their goal this year, and feels they will. The goal amount for Relay for Life of Jones County is $65,000. Those that wish to go ahead and donate online can do so by visiting https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=relay_ donate_now&FR_ ID=91397.
“Bring in the money so we can find a cure for cancer. That’s what we want. People come out to Relay from all walks of life, but they are unified because of this purpose. We do this to find the cure,” she said.
Rutherford said she can’t wait to participate at Relay For Life, but she would be happy if she never had to again if they found a cure.
She said the real goal is to honor those who have battled and are battling cancer, and find a cure for cancer.
“It would be amazing to find a cure,” she said. “I would love to be out of a job, and it would be a lot of lives saved. The future generations wouldn’t have to face this devastating thing called cancer.”
The next Relay For Life team meeting will be April 22.
Relay For Life will be held at the Jones County High School track on May 10 from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
The Survivors’ Dinner will be held at Gray United Methodist Church May 2 at 6 p.m. For more information about Relay For Life, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY19SER? pg=entry&fr_id=91397.