Liberty Regional Medical Center hosted its first 5K in support of the Liberty County Relay for Life on Friday evening.
Racers lined up on South Main Street as Donald Lovette, the chairman of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, read a proclamation before the race. The proclamation emphasized the importance of raising funds for Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society.
While reading the proclamation, Lovette said more than 1 million people contract some form of cancer each year and that 1 in 4 people will die from the disease during their lifetime.
He said the total direct costs of cancer care are expected to reach $158 billion by 2020.
Lovette said Relay organizers throughout the country are the largest contributors to the American Cancer Society and that Relay groups help change lives by celebrating those who have battled cancer and survived while also remembering those who have lost their lives.
Liberty County Relay for Life Chairwoman Karen Bell welcomed the group and thanked everyone for making the first LRMC 5K for Life a success.
She reminded the crowd that the Relay campaign will kick off May 20 at the Liberty County Recreation Department. The first walk starts at 7 p.m., and the festivities continue until 1 a.m.
“I enjoy helping other people,” Bell said, adding that she has lost far too many friends and family members to cancer.
Bell said the money raised from past Relays has helped local families during their care and treatment of cancer. She said there are also several local families involved in new treatment research studies to improve the chances of fighting the disease and surviving.
The group then met Colby and Hope Wright of Wayne County, who recently competed in the “Biggest Loser” TV show. Colby Wright said he lost 100 pounds and his wife dropped 50, and that he was happy to be in Hinesville and participating in the race.
He said the race is important to help raise funds for cancer while also benefitting the health of those participating.
“Thank you all so much for giving us the opportunity to be out here,” Colby Wright said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are applying church league softball, your first Zumba class or if you are using bands to do assisted pull-ups or CrossFit. … It doesn’t matter as long as you doing something … even just taking a walk. … Little steps make huge bounds.”
The racers then lined up at the finish line and took off at the sound of the air horn. It didn’t take long for the top overall winner to emerge, First Presbyterian Christian Academy freshman track standout Joe Cannata.
Minutes later, his little brother Justin Cannata, 10, was the top runner to come in for his age class. The first female to cross the finish line was CrossFit Hinesville owner Tina Carson.
Complete results were not available by press time and will be provided in an upcoming edition of the Courier.