Long County hosted its 2011 Relay for Life on Friday night and Saturday morning at Veterans Stadium. Though temperatures were on the cool side, Chairwoman Carla Carter said this year’s event appeared to draw one of the largest crowds ever. Twenty teams joined in the fun, setting a participation record for Long County’s Relay for Life, which has been going strong for six years.
The fundraiser garnered $33,000, said Carter, who added that there still are a few more events scheduled before the final campaign total is tallied. She’s confident Long County will reach its fundraising goal of $39,000 this year.
The festivities kicked off at 7 p.m. when cancer survivors and caregivers walked the first laps as the crowd clapped and cheered. This year, Relay coordinators added a heroes’ lap to honor the workers who helped put out the fire that broke out in Long County on March 24.
Linda DeLoach from New Beginnings Church dropped by the stadium to support her team. "This is a wonderful end to a week that was so hectic and life-threatening," she said. "Last week, the firefighters and all of the other workers did such a great job, and now seeing the whole community coming together tonight is uplifting."
Friends-For-A-Cure team member Tammy Kasperian was happy to see the event come together smoothly. "Everything looks good out here. A lot more people are here and it seems a lot more organized," she said. "It’s good to see the community out here supporting it."
Alan Rhoden, a firefighter with the Ludowici/Long County Fire Department, attended RFL with his family. "This community always puts support where it is needed. There is a good bunch of people out here tonight," he said.
The event included many popular attractions from years past, such as the kids’ zone, live singing and line dancing, and a few new activities, like Zumba dancing and a mechanical bull. A Thunder Lap, during which local motorcyclists rode their hogs three laps around the stadium, also was added. Frank McClelland Jr., who raised more money for the event than any other biker, led the caravan of motorcyclists.
This year’s Long County Relay for Life sponsors are Canoochee EMC and Altamaha Federal Credit Union. The Heritage Bank, Ludowici Bank, MA Custom Firearms, Huddle House, Low Country Paintball, Fall Wildlife Festival, New Beginning Church, Century Link, Judge Jeffrey Arnold, Slade Sikes Homebuilders, Phillips and Kitchings, Coastal Auto Parts, RTS Construction, attorney John Pirkle, WR Enterprises, Yeoman Construction and Contracting, and J.M. Allen Construction also served as sponsors and contributors.
America Heart Association and Relay for Life spokeswoman Sharon Proudfoot said, "Whether it is battling a wildfire or battling cancer, Long County is always a community that comes together."