By Henrietta Towry
What does “Relay” mean to me? Hope. My involvement with the American Cancer Society began shortly after I moved to Fayetteville in the early ‘80s. I had the honor and privilege to serve as the crusade chairman for Lincoln County. I learned first-hand what a generous and loving community we live in – the outpouring of participation and generosity was overwhelming.
We canvased the county door-to-door and had several special events which garnered a most prestigious award for Lincoln County at the state level, and I still hold that award dear.
Shortly after that, I found myself on stage with seven other ladies at the “Hee-Haw Show”, dancing to “9 to 5”. What fun we had helping to raise money for the community, as well as research. My mom and dad were in the audience, and little did I know at the time, she would be diagnosed shortly with breast cancer.
My mom lost her fight with breast cancer … My sister lost her fight with breast cancer … My aunt lost her fight with breast cancer. Relay took on a new and deeper meaning every time I attended and walked the track … Hope was definitely what we all felt.
“Relay” is a night of fun, love, memories, sadness, games, encouragement, a true gamut of emotion. About 15 years ago, my son and I stayed up almost all night walking the track. It was so hard to explain the meaning behind the activities, but that night, tears were part of the agenda. The track had walkers all the time. So many people, so many lost, so many survivors … so much Hope.
Over the years, I have walked the track and cried over friends and family that lost the battle. I’ve been there to hold friends’ hands as they accepted the rose in the Rose Ceremony in memory of their son. I have read the names on the luminaries. I have truly felt the presence of a love that brings us all together.
Then in the spring of 2015, my life changed. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Words that I had heard and read about were now a part of me. Reminiscing about Relay that year still brings tears. When I stepped on the track, my heart was beating in my throat … This was real – I had cancer. And then the applause started, it followed us around and around and around the track. People everywhere were showing their support, and I knew that every applause, every smile, every hug and every tear shed was a prayer. I thought a lot about the other “Relays” I had participated in, and now I realized it was my turn.
The next year, I was blessed to walk as a Survivor. We walked the track, head held high, tears streaming. We walked for others, we walked for hope, we walked for a cure – that TRACK has power. It brings people together, and we are all on common ground with one goal in mind – to put an end to cancer.
That’s what “Relay” means to me … Hope.
The 2018 Lincoln County Relay for Life will be held here in Fayetteville in May. A major fundraiser for the event is the Night of Hope Ball, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 10, at Sacred Stone Event Center. The evening of fun includes dinner, an auction and dancing. Tickets are $50 per couple and may be purchased by calling Emily Hunter at 931-993-9331, Lisa Salvador at 931-625-3256, or Tracy Holder at 931-227-8744.