The 2015 Long County Relay for Life, held Friday at the Long County Recreation Complex, had a new location because the high-school soccer team needed Veterans Field for a playoff game. However, the new venue appeared to have a positive impact, as a large crowd came out to celebrate the event’s 10th year of the event.
The evening began at 6 p.m. with emcee Charlie Smith welcoming all.
“This is an amazing gathering. Just look around you — everyone is here for the same reason, to put an end to cancer,” he said. “The next six hours will take us together on a life-affirming journey symbolizing a day in the life of someone fighting cancer, a disease that never sleeps.”
Co-chairs Brenda Howard and James Wasden told attendees that Long County was one of many communities putting on a Relay for Life.
“Here tonight, we are doing what other relayers do in 5,000 communities across America and in 20 other countries,” Howard said. “By walking the track tonight, you are joining forces with nearly 4 million people worldwide who want to save lives and create more birthdays.”
Howard also introduced the event’s planning committee: Beverly Johnson, Debi Wells, Gloria Holland, Nikki Lynn, Lynn Simmons, Brandi Dunham, Lilah Bell and Barb Parker.
After the formalities were over, cancer survivors and caregivers lined up on the track to take the first lap of the night. The next lap was taken by each member of the teams.
Following these two laps, the fun began.
This year, there was plenty to do for people of all ages. A kids land was popular with the youngsters as was the face painting. There also were many kids playing football, throwing Frisbees and even playing badminton.
But there also was fun for the adults with live music and dancing. Bikers from around the area gathered at the track to take several “thunder laps.”
Food also was available at the RFL with something for everyone. Some food available was hamburgers, sausage dogs, Brunswick stew, fried fish, cotton candy, nachos and more.
At 9 p.m., the lights were dimmed as all prepared for the luminaria ceremony. It was a solemn time as friends and loved ones remembered those who have fallen to cancer. As the flames flickered, each representing a fallen cancer patient, an AirEvac helicopter conducted a flyover. After the initial flyover, the helicopter pointed its landing light towards the track and flew around the track in honor of all of those who have died from cancer. After that, the fun started again and continued into the night.
Wasden said that there were many to thank for the success of the night, but gratitude had to go out to the presenting partner, A New Beginning Church. He also thanked all who helped.
“We appreciate the volunteers that helped make this year a great success. The Long County Sheriff’s Office and the Ludowici Police Department provided excellent support also a big thanks to the citizens for a great turnout,” he said.
“We also appreciate the support of the Long County Recreation Department. Henry (Strickland) and Randy (Simmons) have been wonderful and helped us in every way that we asked them to … we also want to thank all the teams, sponsors, survivors, caregivers, and participants who came together to make this relay such a success,” Howard said.
The event raised $18,000 through Tuesday, Howard said.