By Denise DuBois
“I stand before you today because Relay is real. It’s because of you that I was able to teach [my daughter] to drive and she didn’t have to learn from her momma. It’s because of you that I sat beside a tennis court and watched her win three state championships. It’s because of you that I watched her graduate high school in 2013. It’s because of you that in May, my wife and I get to watch her graduate from Auburn University. It’s because of you and the money you raised.”
That was the message guest speaker Gary Cornelius wanted to convey at the 2018 Russell County Relay for Life kick-off event at the Central Activity Center on Jan. 11. Cornelius, a Cullman, Ala., resident and Relay team captain, was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March 2002.
“The reason Relay is so important to me is because that treatment I underwent in Omaha, Neb., that allowed me to go into remission was funded in its early stages by the American Cancer Society. It was funded by the dollars you and I raised in Relay for Life,” Cornelius said. “That’s why I appreciate you and what you do in Relay. I’m here today because of you. But the fight isn’t over. Somebody today will hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’”
Russell County Relay for Life, with the theme “Strike Out Cancer,” is May 4 at the Idle Hour Sports Complex, 900 Airport Road, on Field 9. The opening ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and there will be a survivor reception at 6 p.m. ET. The fund-raising goal is $90,000 and the Russell County committee is looking for more teams to help raise money.
Each year, teams made up of businesses, civic organizations, church groups and community members work to raise money by having bake sales and spaghetti dinners, raffling off baskets, hosting golf tournaments and more. Then, the night of the event, teams set up tents and enjoy a night of fellowship with cancer survivors, caretakers and supporters. Some teams sell food and merchandise with a portion of proceeds going back to Relay for Life. This year, the goal is to have 45 teams, said Russell County Relay for Life chairperson Dimple Davis.
Anyone can register a team. Visit relayforlife.org/russellal for more information.
The Russell County Survivor Lunch will be May 2 at First Baptist Church. If you are a cancer survivor or know someone who is a survivor and needs to be added to the survivor list, contact Dimple Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org